2020 saw the world of work experience the single biggest, seismic shift in recent memory.
Covid-19 has required organisations around the world to completely rethink the way they conduct operations, with digital evolution at the forefront of business strategy. Agile working was once seen as an ideal to strive for, a future goal somewhere down the line for work-life balance. Now, for businesses looking to continue working effectively and compete in the marketplace, agile working and workflow tools are necessities.
A recent report by the Legal IT Insider has laid bare the challenges facing legal firms, and has identified a number of lessons learned from the recent shift towards remote working. Its ’Remote Working Survey’ highlights key takeaways from leading legal and professional services firms, though these lessons can also undoubtedly be extended to any organisation requiring efficient internal and customer facing communication and document management.
The report shows that, in hindsight, nearly two thirds of respondents would have made changes sooner, in the run up to lockdown. Whilst arming their workforce with laptops, Teams/Zoom, headsets and a secure private network connection, remote printing and collaborative, paper-lite workflow was and is for many the key hurdle.
Remote printing / paper-lite working
Despite advances in technology, many Professional Services firms still have a literal “connection“ with paper, and for many this has been the blocker to truly Agile workflow. Firms that hadn’t adopted paper-lite processes struggled massively when their entire workforce were lifted from their offices in March 2020. Paper can only be in one place at any time…
Many firms highlighted this as a major issue, and IT directors wished they’d made the change to paper-lite and agile/remote printing sooner. The Legal IT Insider’s report notes the following ’wish lists’ from some UK firms:
Added local printing and scanner for users who are working from home.
Improved document management capability to allow file review without a paper copy.
Encouraged less paper file use, more scanning of documents, better post handling.
Migrated staff off legacy (non-cloud) programs, and installed scanners for all incoming mail.
Gone completely paperless sooner.
Accelerated or tested agile / remote working
While remote, flexible and agile ways of working have been making waves for many years now, only a minority of businesses have truly embraced these processes and reaped the rewards. When lockdown hit, too many organisations simply weren’t anywhere near as prepared as they could and should have been.
Some responses from firms as to what they would have done differently include:
Tested out remote working more thoroughly before it was needed. We only had one test run.
Had a tested plan for all functions, including back office. Although we have got everyone working remotely, some of that had to be done under time and technological pressures.
Trialled homeworking so as to have avoided any nervousness over resilience.
The Hybrid Firm
The workplace has changed, possibly forever. The largest experiment ever in Agile working has had profound and largely positive results, with increases in productivity and a healthier work-life balance. However, we are a species that succeeds through sharing experiences and knowledge – being together, supporting, collaborating, mentoring and encouraging. The workplace plays a crucial role in supporting the culture and values of a firm and will always be the place where team support, collaboration and indeed client facing engagement is at its best. The experience of working remotely for new starters and junior staff can actually be incredibly frustrating, and more worryingly for some people it has proved to be lonely. The novelty for the rest of us may well wear off soon, so whilst we probably won’t all be back at once, the permanent change is the way we need to view the workplace, and in turn support the workforce. The firms that thrive will be the ones that recognise that and enable a healthy balance of both… The Hybrid Workplace, The Hybrid Firm…
The events of 2020 have presented a change catalyst like no other, consequently encouraging organisations to look at The Three Ps … People, Process and Premises. Central to this is Digital Transformation, turning paper processes into digital ones to enable secure, collaborative workflow, supporting staff with access to document creation, management and printing services wherever, whenever.
There is a once in a generation opportunity to make change stick, dramatically enhancing efficiency and agility whilst cutting costs, repurposing workspaces better to support the new norm, and delivering sustainable growth. As hosts of the successful Agile Events over the last decade – sharing best practice and insight, combined with the experience the Agilico team brings from partnering with over 100 of the UKs top Regional and National Law Firms today – we offer a safe pair of hands and certainty of outcome for any firm keen to seize the moment and make positive change stick.
The time is now to build smarter, Agile workplaces and deliver all the benefits of the Agile Firm – more enjoyable and efficient working environments, enhanced client service and value, and most importantly sustainable growth.
Explore some of our Agile Working solutions and start working smarter.
*Survey information sourced from – TheLegal IT Insider Survey Report: COVID-19 – Working Remotely Survey – conducted March 2020
The full report can be found here.