These days, the words “Zoom”, “video conference”, and “remote work” have become part of our standard vocabulary. Nearly everyone has needed to adapt to working remotely after working in an office for most of their professional lives. Legal teams are no exception.
Unfortunately, in the transition to remote work, not everyone has managed to optimise the way they work in this new environment. If this sounds like you, read on. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to help you reach your peak performance.
1. Create a Routine for Yourself
The best way to get yourself used to working remotely is to create and stick to a routine. This comes naturally in an office environment where work typically starts when you step into the office, and stops when you leave. Meal breaks are built into the day, especially when taken with colleagues. Those markers are no longer present at home.
Despite the fact that you’re no longer in the office, it’s important to try and maintain a routine as much as possible. Be sure that you’re on the same page with the rest of your teammates in terms of your work schedule so that there is no miscommunication, and you don’t miss anything time-sensitive or important. Also be sure to carve out time for breaks to recharge during the day, and schedule them on your calendar if you need to.
Give yourself time slots for the tasks and be accountable when you don’t follow your schedule. Whether you’re in the office or at home, you want a reputation for being reliable.
2. Have an Office Space
As tempting as it may be, try to avoid working from your bed or your couch. This will be counterproductive and only hurt your work/life boundaries (and your posture) in the long run. Instead, try to create your own office space if you don’t already have a home office. When you have a designated work area, the familiarity of the space will help you switch into a work mindset.
3. Communicate Often
When you work on a team, communication is important to achieve the best possible outcome for your client. When you’re all not in the same room, good communication is more difficult, yet more important. Be sure to check in with your co-workers at a regular time each day to make sure that everyone is on the same page. If you’re unsure about something, don’t hesitate to ask. It can be time-consuming if you end up making a wrong assumption. Take advantage of using multiple channels of communication, based on what the context requires – for example Slack or Microsoft Teams for quick messages, and video calls for when you need to dive deep into a topic.
You also want to make sure that when you communicate with your team, you are doing so clearly and effectively. If in doubt, we’ve found it best to err on the side of over-communication.
4. Implement the Proper Technology
As mentioned earlier, Zoom is one of the most popular forms of video conferencing. But Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx are also popular options. In order to work remotely and be successful at it, we recommend become familiar with all three so that meetings aren’t inadvertently delayed or deferred by IT issues.
Be sure to share any notes or information in a shared document so that the rest of your team is aware of any updates. As someone who works in law, chances are you are going to be coordinating the signing of a lot of contracts. In that case, you’ll need to implement some sort of electronic signature system so that you can adeptly manage a remote signature process.
You’ll also want to make sure that you can manage contracts effectively. At a bare minimum, you will want a contract repository so that people can locate contracts themselves, and to track important dates and obligations. With more budget, you can also investigate contract lifecycle management solutions to help power the entire contracting process for your whole team.
5. Don’t Forget Security
In the office, you may have had an IT team taking care of every aspect of IT security. At home, you’ll need to take on some of these responsibilities yourself. If it hasn’t already been done, ask your company if they can provide you with a cyber security training course. Cybersecurity attacks are on the increase and you’ll want to familiarise yourself with common cybersecurity practices.
Working remotely has advantages and disadvantages. In fact, if you’ve never done it before, it can be a difficult adjustment. But, even post-pandemic, it seems that remote working will be here to stay for many of us. Therefore, take the time to consciously invest in setting up a good work environment and good remote work habits. You’ll find that this will improve your productivity and both your work and colleagues will thank you.