Hybrid, Home, and Hub Working in 2022 – What Does The Future Hold?
- January 15, 2022
The world of work has undeniably changed during the last two years. Flexible working opportunities, including work from home, hybrid work, and hub (office) working, are rapidly becoming the new norm.
Consider this alongside the new flexible working bill revealed in June 2021, and work environments might change beyond recognition for firms across the legal sector.
The flexible working bill introduces several considerations for firms in search of talent for 2022. That means evaluating working practices for the legal industry, including if and how people return to the office.
Employers will be required to offer flexible arrangements in employment contracts and explain what work schedules are available when advertising job vacancies.
While the data suggests that employees who work in the professional and commercial sectors, such as law, can be just as efficient in a flexible working environment, the right talent growth strategies will still need to be in place to ensure a firm’s ongoing success.
Fail to provide the right working opportunities, and you could risk losing current staff while having your hiring offers rejected.
As a first start, let’s clarify the various working opportunities we are talking about here.
Defining Flexible Working Models
To ensure you’re prepared to welcome the new age of work, you’ll first need to understand what different flexible working modes entail.
Otherwise known as remote working, home working involves allowing employees to work from home or remotely consistently in their role. This may include having video conferences with clients, fellow team members, and other departments for legal professionals.
- Hybrid working
Hybrid working combines home working with time in the office. It involves employees coming into the office and working remotely when their role allows.
Hybrid working has been available in many firms over the last few years, with partners working from home one day a week.
This is now changing, and even though employers and employees have enjoyed the benefits of working from home, the pandemic has also highlighted the wellbeing and connection needs of everyone. Many people find that a few days in the office helps boost their mood whilst improving collaboration.
- Hub working
Hub working often refers to situations where a specific legal team work together as a resource to each other to improve collaboration and communication. One partner may work in an office in Preston, the other in Carlisle and another from home on the outskirts of Leeds.
The move to flexible working is likely to see this style of approach becoming more prevalent.
For most legal companies, the hybrid working method is likely to be the preferred option for both partners and employees.
Approximately 70% of employees want flexible working options to continue, while 65% require more time with teams. In the legal sector, collaboration in-person and interactions with clients may require staff to be present in the office at least part-time.
Is the Hybrid Working Model Suitable for Legal Sector?
The rise of technology has facilitated a rapid transition to flexible working for many professional service and commercial organisations. E-signatures and contract management tools online allow a lot of the back-end work carried out by legal professionals to happen outside of the office.
Legal employees often feel comfortable working in a hybrid environment, as it allows them to split their time between the office, and the home environment, where they can have more quiet and focus. A recent Thomson Reuters survey reveals that 63% of legal professionals want to work flexible hours now, compared to only 22% pre-pandemic.
Notably, the desire for flexible work doesn’t lead to a decline in job commitment. Lawyers in the U.K. previously worked an average of 10 hours per day on weekdays and now express a desire to work up to 10.1 hours with flexible schedules.
Are There Benefits to New Working Styles?
Working from home, in a hybrid environment, or even as part of a flexible hub appears to have several benefits for today’s legal professionals. With fewer long commutes to worry about, time is saved in getting to and from the office and increased productivity has been documented consistently throughout the last two years.
On top of this, many studies are beginning to indicate hybrid and remote working can positively impact employee engagement satisfaction too.
The ability to work flexibly is something many legal job seekers have as a criterion before considering accepting an offer from a new employer. According to the Microsoft global work trends study, 40% of the worldwide workforce is now thinking about leaving their jobs in exchange for a career with more flexible options.
How to Implement New Work Styles
To ensure your firm stays ahead of the latest trends, it’s critical to start looking at flexible working options that make the most sense for your team. Consider which roles are suitable for hybrid, remote, and hub work and which might require a more traditional schedule.
Hybrid working has multiple benefits, but it can be challenging if not planned correctly. For most firms, the introduction of hybrid working will require a culture shift alongside new working methods.
We can learn lessons from working from home during the pandemic; however, hybrid working will make greater demands of managers and firms on an ongoing basis.
People working in a distributed environment can easily suffer from feelings of isolation and disengagement. There’s also the additional concern of cyber security and compliance to think about when team members are working online from multiple environments.
Employers will need to:
- Consider their options: Look at the different working styles available and which ones are reasonably suited to your current employees.
- Provide training: Ensure legal professionals have the tools and training they need to continue providing excellent service in a remote or hybrid environment.
- Invest in constant optimisation: Use feedback from team members to constantly improve the hybrid or remote working strategy.
The recruiting team at Clayton Legal has been working with many law firms to adapt their talent search and job specifications in line with increased demand from job seekers for flexible working.
If you would like a conversation about how we can support your particular firm, do get in touch.
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country
since 1999 and has built up an enviable reputation for trust and
reliability during that time. We have made over 5,000 placements from
Partners to Legal Executives, Solicitors to Paralegals and Legal I.T.
personnel to Practice Managers.
If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.