When ENX2 Marketing began in 2013, Nicole and I didn’t have an office. Many times during that first year, it was her and I at her kitchen table, typing furiously away on our laptops and dreaming of the day that we would have an office to call our own. As time progressed and our company grew, we finally did get that office – two actually.
Then COVID-19 hit and it was like it was in the beginning. I was home, pushing cats away from my monitor while video chatting with clients and using instant messaging to stay in touch with my co-workers. Even though we were apart, technology made it feel like we were still together, working side by side to help our clients succeed.
It made me wonder – has the modern office become our own homes?
Working From Home On the Rise
Even before the pandemic, remote work was becoming the new normal throughout the country. A 2017 Gallup survey found that 43 percent of Americans work from home occasionally, an increase over 2012’s 39 percent. According to U.S. Census data, 5.2 percent of U.S. workers completely worked at home in 2017.
Not only are more people doing it, but more people are wanting to do it. In a recent survey by LinkedIn, 82 percent of workers say they want to work from home at least one day per week while 57 percent want to work remotely at least three days per week.
Of course, this was all before COVID-19. And now, remote work may become a permanent thing in many employees’ lives. According to a recent Forbes article, not only did many companies find working from home a great success, but they are considering making it the new norm. From Facebook to Zillow to even Capital One, these big Fortune 500 companies are extending their work from home programs even as offices around the country begin to tentatively open their doors again.
The Communication Hurdle
I’m a communications expert. It says so in my job title and on my master’s degree…wherever I put that diploma. So the first thing I think of when it comes to the home office is – how are people communicating with each other, specifically in the legal industry?
The communication hurdle is something law firms are currently experiencing. COVID-19 has forced them to work with new technologies that they may not be so comfortable with. From court hearings to chatting with clients via video conferencing, lawyers have been quick to learn to love their computer’s webcam. With the practice of law using new technologies to keep going, who’s to say the law firm office will still be around in five or ten years? Will you be meeting clients through Zoom instead of face to face? Will the majority of your staff be working from home?
And if this is the case, is your law firm prepared to become a remote place of business permanently?
Keep Those Lines of Communication Open!
Communication is so important when it comes to the remote office. Working from home, you don’t have anyone there next to you to bounce ideas off of or help you solve a problem or even discuss something urgent with your manager. So, the lines of communication must be open to having a successful remote work program.
So if your law firm is considering expanding your work from home program, keep these tips in mind to make sure you keep the lines of communication open with your clients and your employees:
- Be proactive in your communication. I’m in constant contact with my staff 24/7, to I’m sure many employees’ chagrin. If I’m not emailing them, I’m using Slack. If they don’t understand a concept, I’m willing to jump on a quick Zoom call to discuss it further. By staying proactive in your communications with your staff, this will cut down on miscommunication and aggravation.
- Rethink what you write. What’s said in a text conversation can be easily taken the wrong way. When you’re conversing with someone, your body language, facial expressions, even tone of voice can help the person understand what you’re trying to say. That’s something that can’t be replicated in an email or instant message. So when you’re writing out an email, remember that the person on the other side doesn’t know the true meaning behind the text. So try to keep a neutral, almost positive tone in your writing. Grammarly, an online grammar checker that is near and dear to my heart, actually has a tone checker feature that can suggest a more positive vibe to your online communication. And always reread your message before hitting send!
- Smile, you’re on camera! Working from home means we miss that comradery that we get in the office. Thank goodness for video conferencing, right? Video calls can give you that face-to-face opportunity you’re craving. At ENX2, we’ve been having two video calls per day – a daily roundup of what we did that day and a morning positivity meeting to get everyone pumped for another day at home. It has worked wonders for morale and keeps our management team up to date one what work is being performed every day.
- Keep office culture alive. One of the highlights and sometimes downfalls of working in an office is the company culture. Inside jokes and informal conversations can make the workday go by a lot faster. But that’s something you may be missing from home. Trust me, the cats don’t understand the meaning behind edamame as my co-workers do. So you’ll have to find ways to bring that culture into your home through other means. Try a virtual happy hour or lunchtime. Maybe schedule some time for a night out with your co-workers. Even a Slack channel dedicated to Star Wars may be just the right ticket for you!