Plenty of law firms that were not in the market to go completely virtual have now have to pivot into that phase as a result of the pandemic. This is an excellent opportunity to review your existing strategies and business structure to decide how you might be able to lead an effective virtual law firm. A core component of running a virtual law firm is retaining the right services in the form of contractors who can help manage your firm. This can include digital marketing contractors, legal assistants, legal secretaries, and more. In this blog, you'll learn more about some core components of a successful virtual law firm.
Don’t Forget Data Security
Allowing everyone in your team to work from home does not mean that you should skip out on data security. In fact, data security should be front and center for everyone on your team. They should be familiar with various ways that they can protect the important data that they are working on within the firm and on behalf of clients.
Make sure that every employee has access to necessary software for the purposes of data security and is fully trained on how to use it most effectively. Make choices in your software that protect your sensitive client data and also enable access from the key players who need it.
Consider Providing Equipment
Some people might not have the necessary home office equipment or other materials to be successful in their job. Just as what you have provided a computer or other equipment that they need, such as a headset or a microphone to run certain video calls with clients, consider implementing this into your law firm strategy to become a virtual law firm sooner rather than later. When employees have the necessary equipment to do their jobs, they can appear much more professional and can be more productive.
Set Remote Working Policies
Although there is some flexibility in working from home and this can be used to your advantage as you position yourself as a remote first employer, you need to carefully think about what this means for your current team members as well as future ones. Simple things, such as camaraderie and keeping everyone motivated can become somewhat more complicated when you are no longer in the same office.
Popping over to someone's cubicle just to say hello or to ask a question means rethinking how this will happen in a virtual environment. What tools will you use to communicate with each other? Will team meetings go on as scheduled in a virtual component?
What is to happen when the employees or virtual team members or contractors have questions? You might need to consider a more robust project management software in order to set this up. Make sure that you have clearly documented policies in your operations and employee manual because this will be your opportunity to hold current employees accountable and make it easier to onboard new contractors and employees as they step into these roles. Do not assume that everybody on your team has the same expectations and clarity regarding working from home. Make sure that you consult with them and train them on what is appropriate. If you still need everyone to be relatively accessible during traditional office hours, for example, make sure that that expectation has been explained to everyone.
Don’t Forget Opportunities to Connect
Some people thrive on the in-person working environment and this does not always translate easily over to working remote first. This means that you need to carefully consider options to build in regular connection time with your team so that they don’t feel isolated when working from home. What this looks like will vary from one law firm to another but can include eating lunch together, playing board games together or doing other activities that keep everyone involved as co-workers and feeling like they are part of the same team.
Don’t Let Your Work Blend Too Much into Your Home
Working from home can be great, that is until you feel like you are working at all hours all over again and are putting back in 60 to 80 hours a week that you were hoping to avoid when you started your law firm. You need to have clear delineations of your workspace and your work time.
So, don’t hesitate to set up those office hours with the expectation for the team and also hold to them yourself. Time blocking can be especially effective for making sure that you remain focused and on top of all of your to-do-action items. If this is the first time your law firm is going entirely remote, there will be some bumps along the way. Use this as an opportunity to refine your systems and processes. The way of doing businesses that worked in your law firm before might not be as effective. Consider making upgrades as necessary with your remote law firm.