COVID-19 : Working From Home (WFH) – A Guide for Law Firms and Solicitors
In these unprecedented times we appreciate that many law firms and solicitors will be adapting to WFH for the first time. As veteran homeworkers who ordinarily go out to meet clients in their offices, or at our meeting facilities around the country we thought it would be useful to share out practical tips in terms of Working From Home.
Firstly, ensure that you have an area which is purely for work if possible. This allows you to turn off from the work at the end of the day and to take regular breaks and to look after your wellbeing and also to be a great family member whilst also working from home. If this is not possible then agree some parameters around where you will work with those that you live with.
The law firms and solicitors’ key issue will always be legal professional privilege and confidentiality. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) rules are not suspended and that means that you do need to think about client confidentiality and legal professional privilege wherever you are working. On the 24th March the SRA issued its first guidance on things, whilst not perfect it confirms the rules are still as normal, but they will try to be flexible. This means exercise care and take advice if you are unsure.
As a regular worker on trains and in cafes I am used to adapting to my environment, including using technology to ensure, for example, that a screen filter is utilised in public areas where as a consequence of the filter nobody other than myself can read the screen or sitting with your back to wall so you can read a document without prying eyes. Working from home the challenges are different but, for example, you should not leave papers lying around, you should ensure that housemates and family members do not take photographs or make social media posts which compromise client confidentiality.
Whether or not you are making or receiving video calls from clients and colleagues, we would strongly recommend that you dress as if at work or going into the office. For Paul that typically means a shirt and a pair of jeans, for Mark it does depend upon his mood but expect something less dull and more flamboyant. Our view however is, however tempting a pyjama day or shorts and a t-shirt might be, the reality is that those things do impact on your psychology and dressing and feeling the part will make all the difference. In almost every WFH article that we have seen online, and in the papers over the last few days it has commented on the importance of maintaining those standards.
Be open with clients and colleagues about your location. You may find that somebody inadvertently walks in to your office bringing a cup of tea, or that a child or partner makes a noise which can be overheard in the background. Currently the whole nation is adapting to the Covid-19 situation and naturally there is opportunity for humour, take it.
If you have your own available green space, we strongly recommend making use of it every day. That might be sitting in the garden for a cup of coffee if the sun is shining, doing a workout or doing some gardening at lunchtime. In taking a break from work and both Paul and Mark are known for putting a load of washing on, doing some household chores, or just taking a break from the work as you would do in the office, whether that is having a chat with a colleague, walking out of the office to get lunch, or doing a bit of shopping in your lunch hour in normal times. From home now it is important to recreate those headspace opportunities the time to process events and thoughts is never wasted.
Over the coming days and weeks we will be putting up more tips, but we hope you and your families stay safe and if you need legal advice on your professional service business then we hope you will not hesitate to get in touch.
We remain open for business and serving clients by email, telephone and of course video conferencing.
Paul and Mark