By now – nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic – everyone understands that things will never fully return to how they once were in the world of work. No matter how many people return to working out of the office, new ways of working are here to stay. In the midst of this moment, I frequently am asked, What does this new phase of business life mean for recruitment? From what I have seen of late, there are three main factors to consider if you are hiring for your team or looking for a new position: flexibility, interim work, and technology.
Over the past three years, practically everyone has become familiar with the work-from-home paradigm. Many people liked what they experienced – flexibility, no commute, and more time with family. Yet, the recent trend of returning to the offices has reminded workers of the benefits of office work – camaraderie with colleagues, a sense of routine, hands-on mentorship, and more. Rather than imposing an “either/or” approach to the work location, many companies see the new norm as hybrid: allowing their employers to work both remotely and from an office, with most employers gravitating to two or three days a week in an office. Hybrid arrangements have become so prevalent that many workers have come to expect them or are seeking employment with companies that provide for hybrid working. Companies that give Talent (current and future) flexibility around working arrangements are proving the most attractive to prospective (and current) employees.
The Interim Legal Workforce
There is a new appreciation for how uncertain life and the market are. This has increased interest in interim arrangements among law departments and law firms alike. When no one knows what tomorrow will bring, Talent hesitates to make long-term commitments. For a law organisation, interim resources make it nimble: it can act quickly on rapidly changing circumstances that require ramping up or scaling down. The interim approach also allows law organisations to address immediate needs for particular skills or subject-matter expertise. Interims can start quickly, bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and be more cost-effective than permanent hiring or outsourcing work to an external law firm. The interest in interim arrangements is more intense than ever among employers and Talent alike.
Technology has had the most significant impact as far as defining today’s world of work (and life overall). Nearly everyone, it seems, is now intimately familiar with tech-enabled virtual offices and virtual organisations, with access to colleagues, meetings, and documents – a way of working that three years ago didn’t feel possible. The pandemic forced us to adapt at speed to the profound changes in life facilitated by technology. Many times, the advances felt phenomenal.
I can attest to this: during the pandemic, I not only started in a new position but also moved house and had a baby(!). I have experienced first-hand the evolving impact of technology across all areas of my life. While some fear that online tools limit creativity, collaboration, and rapport, that has not been the case for me. As long people use technology thoughtfully, teams can sustain engagement, camaraderie, and a sense of closeness. The intensified use of technology has sped up processes, expanded access to colleagues, and erased geographical limitations on securing Talent. We have access to more data on potential hires than ever.
The legal space is sure to continue to evolve, and (to quote from Star Wars: The Next Generation) ‘resistance is futile’. The law organisations that embrace change and remain sensitive to workers’ needs and wants will be in the best position to thrive. The first step is acknowledging the evolution of work and understanding the main forces involved. More than ever before, Talent is seeking out like-minded people and employers who value and provide what Talent considers most important.
More than ever before, Talent is seeking out like-minded people and employers who value and provide what Talent considers most important. Law organisations that embrace change and remain sensitive to workers’ needs and wants will be in the best position to thrive.