Last week the legal news covered stories from the new work frontier–the home office. The most written-about topic (besides COVID-19)? Video and web collaboration technology.
At Elevate, we employ a global workforce. More than 40% of our team members regularly work from locations not within an Elevate office. Video is our standard form of communication; we do not schedule conference calls; we schedule video meetings - all the time. We were ready for last week, and by EOB on Friday, we were 80% work from home. By Monday morning this week, we are 95+% work from home.
Over the last several years, Elevate has continued to stretch out with our remote, virtual workforce. Some of our law firm customers (definitely not all) have continued to reject a virtual and often offshore model. Over this same time, most of our corporate customers have embraced this concept and a model that utilizes virtual and offshore teams. Over time they've seen this as the right approach to secure the right talent in a variety of places.
Fast forward to March 2020. Law firms and law departments have sent their employees home. For the most part, law firms and law departments are still operating. Elevate is still operating. The early result? Law firms that rejected an offsite and offshore model are coming around. They see the productivity of a remote workforce under complex conditions. Remote workers typically don't have school-age children and spouses within earshot for most of the day (some do, and we figure out how to manage this). The transition has been seamless in many situations and law firm leadership is taking notice. As said by the managing partner of a customer law firm 'now that we have colleagues working all over town in every town in which we operate - why not consider a model with colleagues working a continent away?’
Have we reached a COVID-19 driven turning point? This Times article hit home for me, not only on the virtual and offshoring points but on the technology implementation and adoption points. Could COVID-19 adjustments be the law firm catalyst for Lean legal operations implementations? It's a compelling idea.
For all firms, there is no time for development work, no time for perfectionist lawyers and their litanies of idiosyncratic user needs. Good enough must be good enough.