The Law in Black and White Episode 3 – The Workplace of the Future

In episode 3 of The Law in Black and White, Bryan and Jon discuss trends and expectations of what the workplace will look like post-COVID, including professional attire, remote working options, office space and technology concerns.

Listen to the full episode here.

Don’t miss Jon and Bryan’s pet peeves, in the new segment, Law in Black and White Weekly Pet Peeves.

Below are some takeaways on the post-covid workplace:

Remote work:

Legal leaders are seeing that attorneys can be productive at home without the distractions of neighboring conversations and an often-lengthy commute. 55% of businesses globally offer some capacity for remote work and 77% of employees report being more productive when working remotely.

Employees are able to flex their hours to take care of personal needs, working into the evening or starting earlier in the day to get work-related tasks taken care of before tending to themselves. There is potential to have a greater work-life balance, which is increasingly important to young attorneys.

Dress Code and Attire:

We’re hearing more about videoconference attire, business attire on top and sweats on bottom. Fashion trends are proving this statement. Retailers are stocking evergreen items like plain T-shirts, jeans and khaki pieces. Joggers and leggings are selling well, and trendy colors are being shelved for next year, per the Post. Employees are also indicating that a more casual dress code is valuable to them. 1 in 3 workers would rather have a casual dress code than an extra $5,000 in pay.

Richard Brandson believes that a casual dress code isn’t just good for employee satisfaction, it can boost the bottom line. “If people got rid of unnecessary hierarchies and formalities, they would have a lot more fun and get a lot more done.”

Office space:

From 2016 – 2019, the real estate focus was on downsizing, reducing the rent and attracting millennials. Firms were attempting to create more modern offices to drive recruitment and foster collaborative spaces. Ongoing client pressure to cut fees had firms looking hard at bottom-line costs; firms devoted 7.2 percent of their revenue to rent and other real estate fees in 2015, according to Citi Private Bank. Some of these changes included:

• Individual office sizes were getting smaller

• One size fits all offices, no large partner offices

• More efficient and collaborative ways to work

Now in 2020, firms are again being forced to look at bottom line costs. With the transition to remote work due to COVID, real estate costs are front and center.

Another emerging paradigm in the U.S. workplace is dynamic seating. Several firms are now taking a hard look at high office vacancy rates. Firms have realized lawyers can be engaged and productive, no matter where they are. As a result, it may become more common to have some lawyers work from home for a portion of the week on a regular basis and sit in unassigned seating when they are in the office.

Technology

Last but certainly not least are the challenges associated with technology as we shift from office work to remote work. Many people have been surprised by how quickly and effectively technologies for videoconferencing and other forms of digital collaboration were adopted, however, technology security and securing confidential client information is a priority. Transitioning to a remote workforce means an increase in security risks due to the use of “Shadow IT”, the use of personal devices to access corporate systems and data, which increase the overall “attack surface” for cybercriminals, state and non-state actors, including corporate espionage. 

Some tips to consider implementing to help create secure and remote work environments include:

  1. Multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication is a security enhancement that requires at least two pieces of evidence when logging into an account, fortifying accounts against stolen passwords and blocks up to 99% of attempted web attacks.
  2. Use of VPNs: Connect to a secure network and using a company-issued Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access any work accounts. VPNs create an encrypted network connection that authenticates the user and/or device and encrypt data in transit between the user and their services. Avoid connecting to public or shared Wi-Fi networks whenever possible unless using a VPN.
  3. Securing home networks: Home routers should be updated to the most current software and secured with a lengthy, unique passphrase.
  4. Keep business and personal separate: Whenever possible, ensure company devices and personal devices are each on their own separate networks. Do not conduct business on personal devices in order to minimize vulnerabilities to business data.
  5. Update all software: Ensure that your Internet-connected devices ‒including laptops, smartphones, and tablets ‒ are running the most current versions of software. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other developers frequently push important security updates that improve performance and security.

Make sure to listen to the full episode to hear Bryan and Jon’s opinions and predictions of what the future of work will look like post-covid.

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