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Industry Insights Blog

Flexibility Matters

Carol Crawford

By:  Carol E. Crawford, Managing Director

For years, flexible work schedules, including telecommuting, have been successful strategies used to attract and retain talent and to enhance organizational efficiency.  While flexible work schedules continue to be one of the most significant areas of employee satisfaction, law firms have been slower to adopt this as a universal strategy than many of their corporate counterparts.

The themes and timing of the four instances below signaled a need to generate some additional analysis on the topic of flexible work arrangements:

  1. March 10, 2017 the American Lawyer reported on work-from-home trends in Big Law
  2. law.com published a follow-up article on March 17, 2017
  3. On March 15, 2017, JJES included a Flexible Work Arrangements Survey in our March newsletter circulated to several thousand law firm business services professionals.  While the articles referenced above primarily focus on work-from-home trends and policies for lawyers, of the 126 respondents to our survey, 92% were exempt professional staff within Marketing, Business Development, HR, Legal Recruiting, Professional Development, Operations and other functions within law firms. 
  4. On March 30, 2017, a significant section of Interstate 85 collapsed following an intense fire on one of the main thoroughfares through downtown Atlanta causing the freeway to be shut down “indefinitely.” News reports were buzzing with gloom and doom traffic gridlock predictions.  Atlanta businesses and their HR teams, including law firms, quickly began identifying alternative traffic patterns, flexible work schedules and telecommuting options for their employees. 

Our key survey findings: (Full results of our Flexible Work Arrangements survey will be distributed in a future newsletter)

  • 82% of respondents have “some” flexibility to work from home
  • 49% work from home less than one day per month
  • 92% have remote access, 74% are supplied with a lap top
  • 67% reported no formal arrangement in place for flexible work
  • Of the 131 total participants, 31 took the additional time to include lengthy comments as well

75 % of all respondents stated they value a flexible working schedule more than seeking a new role in another firm (should the right opportunity present itself) 

These survey results validate our observations and beliefs regarding the importance of flexibility as an employee engagement strategy:   

  • Flexibility carries significant value for employees
  • Commute time, managing family responsibilities and personal flexibility all play a large role in job satisfaction
  • This is not a fad, rather a cultural shift that redefines “the workplace”
  • Ignoring the conversation is not a solution, as some respondents offered their willingness to leave legal to gain flexibility

Ultimately, firms who embrace change, are agile, innovative and willing to try new things are the most likely to succeed in this era of increased competition and war for talent.

 

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