A Complete Guide to Setting Up a Work From Home Policy at Your Law Firm

As 2023 begins, it’s important to make sure your policies are up to date and still relevant for the COVID-normal workplace. Since the beginning of 2020, the ben...


LawMaster Marketing

As 2023 begins, it’s important to make sure your policies are up to date and still relevant for the COVID-normal workplace. Since the beginning of 2020, the benefits of remote working for employee wellbeing and work-life balance have become increasingly clear, but it’s important to have a formal policy in place. A formal policy will support your management team to get the best out of their staff and sets out your firm’s expectations clearly.

As employment law changes to reflect employee needs, your firm should also be prepared for reasonable requests from employees for work from home flexibility.

Clearly Define Your Remote Work Policy

Consider your business needs when creating your work from home policy. Think about the purpose of your policy, eligibility of your staff, and the expectations you have for your team. Your policy should include processes, such as health and safety checklists, equipment needs, security protocols, and communication expectations.

It should also include how many days per week you are permitting your staff to work from home, whether you’ll be implementing a regular “anchor day” where everyone is required to work in the office, and whether work from home days will be scheduled or ad hoc.

As part of creating your policy, you’ll need to examine whether your current legal software will support your planned remote working needs. LawMaster provides a single source of truth for every matter, supporting remote and asynchronous working as all matter information is available in one place. Other technology needs may include a tool like Slack or MS Teams, and you should do a full audit of your existing technology as part of your policy creation.

Check In With Your Team

Clear communication at all stages of implementing a new policy is vital to its success. This includes consulting staff on what their needs and preferences are and taking their feedback into account when crafting your policy. What works for other firms may not work for yours. Ensuring your employees’ needs are met in your policy will be beneficial to your business, and it’s best to solicit genuine input from your team to establish what would be helpful for them.

Once you’ve implemented your new remote working policy, ensure you and your team are following the communications requirements such as regular meetings, reporting on outcomes, and concerns or feedback.

Review the policy with your team after a set period of trial, for instance at three and six months, and adjust the policy as needed according to feedback, and communicate changes clearly.

Set Aside Time to Meet In Person

It’s important to maintain relationships with your team, so planning to spend time in person should be included in your firm’s work from home policy. This could look like regular teambuilding activities, planning and brainstorming days, or after-work drinks on anchor days.

Managers should aim to have one-on-ones with their teams on days when they are in the office, and ensure that each team member feels heard in any concerns.

Consider other ways to keep your team engaged that don’t require in-person attendance, such as regular all-hands meetings or virtual team-building activities.

Have an Open Door Policy

Your staff should be able to bring their concerns or questions to you, and it can be helpful to have an open leadership style that ensures problems don’t get hidden away or avoided. Supporting your team to speak with you when they need you will mean that any issues that may arise can be mitigated promptly instead of being left to fester. Communicate clearly with your staff that you are available to listen to concerns they may have and follow through. Consider how to make this work even in busy times—you may wish to check in with staff proactively rather than waiting for them to approach you.

Use the Same Set of Standards Across the Board

Eligibility and expectations should be standardised to ensure employees feel they are being treated fairly. While there may be roles in your firm that can’t successfully be completed remotely, access to remote working should be determined by set criteria. Roles that can’t be carried out completely remotely may still benefit from hybrid working.

KPIs, communications and working flexibility should be equivalent for equivalent roles—you may have different requirements for paralegals than for senior lawyers, but your policy should be consistent across role types.

Set Expectations But Be Flexible

Communicating your expectations sets your staff up for success, and you should be clear on what your firm needs from them to continue to successfully remote work. But allowing some flexibility supports your staff to enjoy the benefits of remote working and can actually make them more productive. The outcomes your team produces are more important than ensuring employees are at their desks at set times, especially if you’re using legal software like LawMaster or Actionstep that supports effective collaboration.

Consider what exceptions may best support your staff, for instance while your policy may require staff to have adequate childcare when working from home, you may allow exceptions for parents whose children are home sick, and who would prefer to work remotely rather than use their carer’s leave.

Plan For Continuous Growth

One of the benefits of remote working is that your firm isn’t restricted by office space when your team is growing, and reduced costs of premises and infrastructure mean lower overheads. Your onboarding policies will likely need to be updated to support remote workers, as the process will be different to onboarding staff in the office.

You’ll need to ensure you’ve got a scalable legal technology solution like LawMaster or Actionstep in place to support your team as it grows.

Talk to us today and find out whether LawMaster or Actionstep is right for your firm, and how we can support your firm stay on the same page when moving into a remote world.

Contact us

Keep Reading