Legal service workers will work extra 20 days when working from home

Law firms are gaining the equivalent of an extra 20 working days a year from employees putting in longer shifts when they work from home, according to new research from Atlas Cloud.

The research reveals that by working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, instead of commuting to an office, employees in the sector are saving an average of 85 minutes per day.

Office workers say they are splitting this additional time between work and play by spending an average of 36 minutes extra on work per day and also gaining an additional 49 minutes per day leisure time.

Under the new national lockdown, employees are only allowed to travel to work if it is “unreasonable” to do their job from home. Previously, the UK Government had advised all employees to work from home wherever possible.

As the average month comprises 21 working days, businesses would on average gain almost an entire month’s worth of additional work per each employee that works from home between the first lockdown in March 2020, and March 2021.

Meanwhile, by working from home, employees would gain back the equivalent hours of 27 days of annual leave – potentially doubling the minimum amount of annual leave (not counting bank holidays) staff are legally entitled to each year.

Over eight in ten people in healthcare and social assistance (85%) say they want the ability to work at least one day a week from home.

However, crucially the survey commissioned by the IT managed service provider Atlas Cloud shows that workers do not want to see the death of their office, pointing to a future of hybrid work after the pandemic crisis is over.

More than three quarters (78%) of legal services workers now want a return to the office in some form, although only 15% want to work from the office full-time. Less than a quarter (22%) say they want to work from home full-time.

Almost two-thirds (63%) said that they would prefer hybrid-working – a blend of home, office, and remote work – after the pandemic.

By implementing flexible, hybrid working policies (a mixture of office-based and remote working) when it is safe to do so, legal services businesses would gain additional working hours, whilst providing employees with opportunities for much-needed opportunities for workplace social interaction.

Half of respondents in the sector (50%) said they had used their additional leisure time to spend more time with family, with 43% saying they had used it to catch up on sleep, and 40% using it to do more exercise.

As preferences shift towards hybrid working, legal firms will now have to re-think their office-centric approach to work. Of those that didn’t work from home prior to lockdown, more than three quarters – 77% – said this was due to restrictive company policies.

Nine out of ten office workers in the sector (90%) said the coronavirus crisis has proven that they can work effectively from home.

The increasing proportion of people who say they can now work effectively from home is being influenced by companies that invested in digital transformation during the pandemic. Two thirds of employees working for legal services organisations (67%) said their companies invested in new or updated technology to help enable digital transformation since the start of lockdown.

Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud, said:

“Working from home can be a win-win for employers and employees as the lack of commuting gives people more time to spend working and more leisure time.

“However, working only from home is isolating for the majority of people, and unsustainable in the long-term. People miss face-to-face social interaction and for a significant number of people it is affecting their mental health.

“It is incredibly heartening to see some companies in the legal industry already putting in place pioneering plans to give staff the flexibility to work from the office, home, or remotely from another location when the pandemic is over. This is a really encouraging step towards a better future for employees and businesses.

“The pandemic has transformed the way we think about the workplace, but it is by no means the death of the traditional office – it is the birth of hybrid-working.

“This research clearly demonstrates that the majority of people want to return to the office in some capacity after coronavirus, but more often than not this is to pursue a hybrid working model where they can work more flexibly.

“Companies need to think about how to achieve this, particularly when it comes to implementing digital transformation, if they want to avoid being left behind as the country aims for a new phase of hybrid working.

“Instead of enforcing strict policies to work from home or from the office, employers need to build agility and flexibility into their policies, enabling hybrid-working in order to boost efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction, as well as attracting and retaining the best talent.

“One of the few bright spots of the coronavirus is that it has shown we can build a better way of working which will help to create better businesses, a better society and ultimately better lives for ourselves, our colleagues and our families. Companies should now be planning for post-pandemic changes in the way we work to avoid being left behind. We now have a golden opportunity to embrace flexible and agile hybrid-working to create a better work-life balance for millions of people.”

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