Working from home (WFH) - the day in the life of a managing partner in the #coronavirus pandemic.

  • Announcements and News

When a colleague first suggested I write a blog on WFH I initially did not think there was much to write about, but I was wrong. Whether you are an employee or a business owner we have all had to adapt the way we work, and we are all in this together.

If you are a CEO how long do you spend beating yourself up about recent events, “Could I have done things better?” “Was my business continuity plan fit for purpose?”

In short, Covid 19 was a problem that had nothing to do with you, so pick yourself up and get on with it and get used to WFH.

There are numerous tips in the media and online on all aspects of WFH. Over the next week or so I will be passing on the ones which work for me and others that do not, but which then again might work well for you

Before we get to today’s tip, I have been working remotely for several years now using my time efficiently and effectively by minimising commuting time. @SummitLawllp several years ago now we embarked on a journey to declutter our office in Russell Square. The hope was that we would rid ourselves of walls lined with filing cabinets and create an airy contemporary paper free environment.

Later in that programme we actively encouraged WFH because we appreciate that relaxed team members are happier and perform better which is not exactly rocket science.  We are effectively saying to our colleagues: “We trust you and we do not want you piling on more stress to what is already a challenging job”. This combined with a dress down everyday policy has led us to having a more collegiate atmosphere where camaraderie and team work is the norm. After all, who likes paying for and taking their suits to the dry cleaner at weekends.

Over the last 4 years we also embarked on a journey of making our server redundant moving to a secure cloud-based document management system. All incoming post is scanned and old files in archive are being systematically destroyed after the requisite SRA life span.

This means that my smart phone or tablet is my filing cabinet and I can access any document from anywhere in the world. Kicking back 4 or 5 years ago I recall having to carry a Guildhall legal file around with me stuffed with documents, but thankfully not anymore.

Just before the lock down was announced we were able to issue our team with laptops armed with Office 365 and Microsoft Teams enabling the team to keep in contact with one another at the click of a button. When the lock down is over will I ever leave my desk and jump on a tube from Holborn and travel to say Liverpool Street for a 60 minute meeting and then travel back? Probably not.

WFH has taught me that I do miss the camaraderie with colleagues and the collegiate ambiance of the office, but equally in the days I WFH I can achieve so much more, especially when working on documents.

Tips

Are we sitting comfortably?

Do not use your laptop on your lap. Instead put it on a stable base with support for your arms.

If possible, use a separate keyboard and mouse and perch the laptop on books, at eye level. I find that setting bigger than normal text size helps not to strain my eyes. They say you should also take short breaks say every 30 to 40 minutes and walk around. Another tip somebody told me about which I found useful was that during video conferences, place the device on a shelf and stand up. Hopefully these good habits will prevent us all from developing aches and pains.

Have a routine and stick to it!

When working from home I have found that I work best when I have a routine and stick to it. Perhaps you feel you work best slouched on your sofa in your dressing gown, but I am convinced you will be more productive if you get up, washed and dressed as normal. One person I met years ago now, used to make a point of wearing a suit and tie whilst working from home. Personally, I think that's OTT but even putting on shoes might help. I guess it depends on your mood - and whether you're expected to conduct meetings over teams or similar. Your appearance will have an impact on how you feel all day, so PJs are a no-no. If your living arrangements allow it, find a separate space from everyone else to do your work and leave that area behind when you're done i.e. clock off. Do make sure that you get up and wander around for at least 10 minutes.

Timing is, as they say, all important

A colleague suggested I structure my day. Perhaps go for a run (if you're not in self isolation) during the time you would be commuting, and you've just freed up your lunch break or evening. Getting exercise is important. Allow yourself time before catching up with your children, switching to parent mode is important.

Remember to switch off!

I used to deceive myself into thinking that working and until late at night, and sometimes into the early hours, was efficient and effective. It's not and sooner or later it will catch up with you. Don't let work drag on into the evenings. When you have completed your task list, shut down your computer and tidy away your work stuff so you are ready for a fresh day ahead. I do sometimes end up sending the odd few emails late in the evening but it is a bad habit so be resolute and clock off.

 

For employment law advice on furlough or any other issues please email Nick Davies nd@summitlawllp.co.uk or call 0207 467 3980. Please visit our employment law section https://www.summitlawllp.co.uk/our-legal-services/for-business/employment-law/

Article Author

Jeremy Boyle

Jeremy Boyle

Managing Partner & Head of Insolvency