Thanks in large part to digital technology, even the traditional legal field has changed to a more mobile and flexible workplace. It used to be that most, if not all, client phone calls took place in the law office or a conference room. But with the evolving nature of virtual business, most lawyers now have a long and likely amusing list of locations they've taken client calls — in the car at soccer practice, outside restaurants, or tucked beneath an awning to avoid the rain.
Why You Are Now a Mobile Workplace
Unsurprisingly, the main reason lawyers and staff can work from pretty much anywhere is that today's business communications solutions make it possible. Without this technology, they would still be chained to a desk late at night instead of taking calls in the comfort of their home with their dogs lying at their feet. Yet technology alone wouldn't prompt such a dramatic shift in the way attorneys work — there's a business case for it, as well. Specifically, increased mobility and flexible workplaces help with:
- Productivity. Research from Global Workplace Analytics reports that two-thirds of employers note increased productivity when employees work remotely. Recent studies of JD Edwards and American Express also indicate a 20 percent to 25 percent and 43 percent increase in productivity, respectively, when it comes to employees who work remotely.
- Recruitment and retention. Top new lawyers can be challenging to recruit and even harder to keep. It's no secret that most employees who like their work would love the option to work from home or on-the-go when they need to. Many firms are now using telecommuting to attract and retain the best associates and employees. Those that don't offer flexibility in their working locations and hours may see top graduates, lawyers, and experienced staff make a break for other firms more open to different ways of working. They may even end up paying more to replace employees who head to another firm with a more flexible workplace.
- Cost savings. For law firms, one of the biggest benefits of virtual business is cost savings. By having a virtual workforce or mostly remote firm, you save significantly on office space. This savings can be pocketed by the partners or passed on to clients — or a combination of both. Even firms that only allow remote working as a part-time option can see cost savings because less office space is needed. This setup also allows more options for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. When employees use personally owned devices, it reduces costs and provides more convenience to workers. Instead of running around with two phones bulging in their pants pockets, they can toggle between their business and personal number on their own device and take important client calls right after they post an Instagram of their afternoon coffee.
Technology That Sets You Free
Yes, it takes technology to successfully evolve into a firm that embraces mobility. But you have to have the right technology and use it in a way that helps your firm collaborate and stay connected outside the office walls.
Consider three important types of technology to embrace when going mobile:
- Mobile devices: Of course it starts with a phone. You can't have a mobile workplace without a unified communications platform that combines voice and cloud technology to let your employees and partners work across multiple devices. All of these devices can have the same phone number, so your employees will receive calls regardless of whether they're sitting in a cafe or on the steps of the courthouse with their phone in one hand and a half-eaten sandwich in the other.
- Cloud-based technology: With cloud-based software, tools no longer have to be installed on the device you're working on. This means that employees can have the same experience that they have in the office on whatever device or computer they want. You can also manage your hardware virtually and back up your servers. But, most importantly, you can use the power of the cloud to provide your customers with additional services and products, such as apps and portals, that will increase revenue. For example, if your firm uses Clio®, you can integrate this customer relationship management (CRM) tool into your business phone system, saving significant time by automatically tracking call times, taking notes, and logging all incoming and outgoing calls for any given client, whether those connections are made from a desk pone in the office, on a mobile phone at the courthouse or simply on-the-go.
- Collaboration tools: One concern about telecommuting is the loss of face-to-face time in meetings and work sessions, but with collaboration tools such as project management software, chat software, video conferencing and web meetings, your team can work almost as if everyone is in the same room. Cloud communications offers all of these features — and more — providing the flexibility and mobility needed to enhance collaboration, increase productivity, and, ultimately, grow your business. The bad news is telecommuters will have to bring their own donuts — but hey, at least they won't get stuck with the last powdered jelly.
Virtual business may seem like a big shift for your firm, but technology can make it easy and relatively painless. It's time to start taking steps toward evolving to a mobile workplace — your employees will thank you for it.
Contact a Vonage® Business consultant to take the next step in helping your employees telecommute.