While the world waits for health experts and political leaders to resolve the conflict between the public health response to COVID-19 and the steps to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact, this much is clear: a new way of locating, organizing, and conducting work has arrived. These new ways of working present an opportunity to establish a new modus operandi, rather than simply waiting to revert to pre-COVID-19 ways. The future is upon us, and the question is whether to accept it and take advantage of this new era or resist and reject the imperative of change.

One of the most prominent features of this new age is intensified pressure to cut costs while adapting to and navigating an unprecedented era. At Elevate, we see many of our customers in the legal industry facing two divergent trends in the race to cut expenses: increased workload (and the need for talent) in legal areas such as claims and restructuring, and a decrease in other areas. In my role as a Director at ElevateFlex, I have spoken to more than a few businesses and law firms about this paradox. They are anxious to quickly address existing demand while also laying the groundwork for what it will be in the future. They seek an approach that meets business requirements, aligns with strategy, and adheres to cost constraints. But how do you forecast when you don’t know what the future holds?

Tapping into a flexible remote workforce addresses these multiple concerns. First, it broadens the pool of talent available to do the work. Pre-COVID, many of our customers faced restrictions due to their location. Their people had to be on-site, at least for the vast majority of the time, and this meant they only could draw on local talent (or else incur the expense of travel and accommodations for non-local talent to come to the worksite). Embracing a virtual workforce eliminates this barrier and expands the pool by orders of magnitude (in the case of ElevateFlex, we have more than 18,500 legal professionals in our global network who are equipped to work virtually).

Second, the flexible mobile workforce also does a better job of meeting business requirements, strategy, and cost constraints in two ways. With a global talent pool that includes individuals with broader skills and experiences than local candidates, it becomes possible to match talent to needs precisely. Flexibility also means agility, as you can quickly scale up and down as circumstances require.

The biggest challenge we hear from our customers is changing the mindset of legacy employees working remotely. This challenge is especially prevalent in law firms, where the prevailing culture has long prized presenteeism. Adjusting to WFH is one thing when an organization already knows its team – strengths, weaknesses, expertise. It is much different with new hires. The difficulties are much more easily surmounted when candidates have been pre-vetted and already have a solid WFH track record. They are known entities who “know the drill” of quickly coming up-to-speed on matters. They are already adapted to the culture of WFH.

It is a safe bet that some – even many – of your competitors are already making this shift. One of our customers, a global law firm, has shuttered their London office for the foreseeable future (despite the more moderate guidance from the government), and they are well along the journey of putting in place the necessary infrastructure, adapting their work culture and environment, and socializing their employees to this new way of working. To remain competitive, you must keep up.

Change is often uncomfortable and can be hard to navigate. COVID is forcing organizations to change, whether they want to or not. Having an experienced partner can make all the difference.