When virtual becomes reality

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Perhaps necessity is also the mother of transition? Because undoubtedly, over the past few turbulent months, many hundreds of thousands of legal personnel have transitioned, virtually overnight, and entirely out of necessity, to the status of “home worker”.

In so doing they’ve accelerated the adoption of remote working at a speed considerably beyond that which in any other circumstances would have been thought possible. In addition, in making this transition, lots of people who were resistant, or who at least had reservations, have found that the new reality of remote working is entirely doable.

We are indeed living through an acutely unique set of circumstances. In the ordinary course of events, any firm contemplating its wholesale migration out of central offices and into a “remote working” model would almost certainly have taken many months at least to execute the manoeuvre. Business cases would have been written, feasibility studies done, plans laid, training conducted.

Meanwhile, lots of hand‐wringing would have accompanied every senior partners’ meeting on mitigating the impact on firm revenue and perception for employees and clients. And each transitioning individual would, most likely, have received an appropriate amount of hand‐holding.

The end of remote working

First, and perhaps perversely, the term “remote working” has probably become redundant. Now that everyone is remote, no one actually is! And this is not such a bad thing. Because for the longest time, the term “remote worker” has attracted a vague stigma. As though such people had limitations and were compromised by their physical distance from the beating heart of the organisation. They were seen as outliers, peripheral and maybe even a bit rogue.

Second – and importantly – it’s likely that many of the hesitations felt over extending remote working will have been dispelled and that, contrary to some expectations about the distractions of home working, productivity has in fact not taken a hit. Sure, working from home does have distractions, but so does working in an office.

Experience is also dispelling the concerns of those who worried about not having a sufficient grasp of technology and that they would struggle out on their own, beyond the help of an assistant, or IT services. In fact today’s technology is designed to be fairly intuitive, even for the tech‐averse. Plus when individuals have run into issues, they’ve found that IT support can help them remotely and just as effectively as if someone was standing over their shoulder.

What has been proven in recent months is that working from home in no less efficient than working in the office and arguably there are cost savings to be made and a competitive advantage to be seized. Indeed, necessity has catapulted firms from their cosy, traditional premises and people are now living a real-time, real life demonstration of how a firm can function, and function well, without a physical central hub.

A virtual hub

In the coming months we will likely see a transition to a hybrid version of the past and the present. But, even when the future is clearer will we all make a full time return to our offices? And is it necessary to do so for firms to offer the best support to their clients?

We are seeing more and more that the firms we work with are looking at the options for optimising service delivery remotely and reducing their cost base. Electronic signatures, client portals alongside collaboration tools are often the topic of conversation. Also, of equal importance is a central source of management information to ensure the smooth and efficient running of their business from remote locations.

In essence a firm’s practice and case management platform is fast becoming the ‘virtual hub’ of the organisation and choosing the right practice and case management software is vital now more than ever. Firms need to evaluate the tools that they are using, so that they can remain competitive in these exceptional times and build on these foundations in order to flourish in the new working world.

Advanced is hosting a panel discussion on 30th September at 12pm, with key industry experts and some of our own practice and case management software users to explore in more detail why choosing the right practice and case management solution in 2020, is so important for law firms. Sign up now.