By now we are all familiar with the concept of remote working and for many, it is the new employment reality.
A PwC Canada study found that 82 per cent of Canadian employees worked mainly from an external workplace prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, 59 per centwork remotely. While the majority of employers expect at least a partial return to the office in the coming months, only one in five employees prefer a full-time return to their old workplace.
Lawyers, whose work is considered an essential service, were among those forced to pivot quickly to keep files moving. For a profession steeped in tradition and routine, the sudden change left some unprepared, according to the dNovo Group, an agency specializing in lawyer marketing.
The ability to embrace emerging technology was essential in the shift from the courtroom to the video screen, dNovo found, and new advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning have had a continuing impact on the lives of lawyers.
When the pandemic first hit and the traditional law office moved to home offices, many assumed that the routines of old would return when the virus blew over. More than a year later, the world is still struggling to cope and it is uncertain if normalcy will be in our future.
Regardless of the profession, working from home can lead to burnout so it’s important to take steps to ensure you are not only doing your job, but maintaining your health and finding balance between your work and home life.
Structure your workday
When you first start working from home it can be easy to slip into bad habits. You may be tempted to work when you feel inspired. But many experts say a regular work routine can keep you on track and productive. Prioritize your work. Keep a calendar and use it to block out time to do specific tasks. Keep an organized desk so you are not wasting time searchingfor something. Review your workday or work week and consider if the schedule you are following is the best one for you and your employer.
No one says you have to stay laser-focused on your work but for some, it is easier to be distracted when you are working at home, far from the boss’s oversight. Have a place in your house that is meant for work. You don’t have to barricade yourself inside but ensure that family members respect your work schedule. Leave TV time and housework for the end of the workday and if you work in a house with a lot of people and activity, try noise-cancelling headphones.
Take a break
You may think you will be the world’s hardest worker if you stayed glued to your chair all day, but are you really working smarter? True, some people are afraid to take a breather because it can be easy to be sucked into a household chore. But even a short break at regular intervals can increase energy and focus for the tasks that await. Have a quick snack, walk outside for a breath of fresh air, and let your mind disengage from the work and recharge.
Take care of your health
When you are working from home you can be your own worst enemy. Eat healthily. Isolation is a common problem among remote workers. Socialize with colleagues. At the end of the day leave your desk and go for a walk and put work behind you until the next day.
Law firms that are looking to help employees strike a balance by moving to a hybrid remote work environment should consider the following:
- The needs of the business and the employee
- The nature of the work and its suitability to remote work
- Cost and availability of equipment needed
- Defining “office hours”
- Ensuring a clear vision of expected duties