At Practus, remote work is our business model. Even so, our attorneys are having to adjust, too, because the way everyone is working is shifting. Our families are at home all day. Our clients’ work arrangements and accessibility is up in the air. So, we fall back on the things that have worked for us as a virtual law firm from the start.
Here are some tips that we’re sharing in the spirit of helping all lawyers adjust to the new normal:
1. Structure Your Workday
It’s true: practicing law remotely takes a different kind of focus and discipline than working in an office (at first). Drawing boundaries between your personal life and work life can get difficult—especially when everyone is being directed to stay at home together. Make a plan for your day and follow it. Lock in your working hours, considering when you tend to be most productive. Is that early morning? Late night? (hint: 9-to-5 is no golden rule any more). If you have kids at home, let them sleep. Get some focused time in before they all trundle down for cereal and waffles. Obviously, factor in when your teams and clients need you to be accessible. Then set your own schedule and stick to it.
2. Create Your Workspace
Do you have a home office? Great. Is your office actually the dining room or den? Not to worry. If there isn’t a fixed room (with the privacy of a door) your dining room, breakfast nook or coffee table can do in a pinch. Dedicate a space to spread work out and get work done—one that doesn’t have to be put away or shifted around all the darned time.
3. Dress the Part
Dress like it’s your normal Monday to Friday (more Friday than Monday if you get my drift). You’ll feel more focused. You’ll get more done. The cliché about working from home in pajamas is best left for Sundays or Hallmark holidays. Give yourself the mental cue of starting business in the morning. Enjoy the fact that at home you have the leeway to lose the tie and jacket, skip the formal footwear and rock a good pair of jeans any day you want— so long as you’re always ready for a video chat.
4. Get Your Tech Tools Set
At the office, your kit is all set up to your liking. Laptop here. Dual monitor and wireless keyboard there. Printer and docking station just so, and of course your team is in close proximity for passing off files and rapid-fire collaboration. You want to get equally dialed in at home so it doesn’t feel like downshifting. What do you need to get your home kit up to snuff? Can it be delivered? Add that second monitor. Ensure you can talk hands-free so you can type and send files. Establish a virtual platform to link seamlessly with your team (if you haven’t already). And pick up a headset or AirPods for when you need to have work conversations and your family is under the same roof doing their thing.
5. Keep Communication Lines Open
Working remotely puts greater responsibility on each individual in the chain to stay connected and on task. Keep communications
open with your coworkers, direct reports, manager and clients. Stay on top of emails and direct messages. Be up front with your teams and clients about the tools you choose and the times you’re on. There are plenty of platforms to enable multiple people to contribute to the same document, board book, or presentation. Here are a few apps to consider:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts
- Zoom (freemium or paid)
We’ve found that Microsoft Teams works well for our firm. And people are flocking to Zoom in droves (many for personal use). According to Forbes.com, on one single day in March 343,000 people downloaded Zoom for video conferencing worldwide.
6. Take Smart Breaks
Another beauty of remote work: your time is your own. Smart breaks help you to be more productive. Give yourself a good lunch with the family since everyone’s around. Go for a walk. Do yoga or meditation. Watch the news. Beat the afternoon slump with upbeat music, a quick jog or a chat with a friend. Take your phone or laptop to the deck. Don’t let work creep in on your break time. Don’t let distractions blur into your work time.
7. Track Your Time
Track it to see how your schedule’s working. Try to keep yourself honest about not giving in to distractions, housework or any of the 10,000 little things that can nibble at you. Keep on schedule and on-task. Keep working, tracking, and billing through the crisis. A month or two from now you want to be in a good spot—on top of work, connected to clients, and not fighting to catch up.
These are challenging times. The crisis is unprecedented and disruptive on so many levels. But with the right tools, focus and mindset, the practice of law will go on. We have the means to keep connected, stay on task and power through. It doesn’t take long for working from home to become second nature.
If anything, this crisis is giving us perspective on what’s most important in the big picture. Family is definitely important. Health and community are both important. Career is important, too. In times when we face disruption, it has the power to show us new ways to change and adapt that we might never have considered otherwise.
Hoping you feel just as motivated, engaged, and productive as ever. Stay healthy out there.
Director of Partnership Growth
Practus is an innovative law firm that is disrupting the outdated ways of practicing law. By leveraging mobile technology, cloud-based solutions, and an agile infrastructure to deliver legal services, Practus is pioneering a more visionary approach to the way attorneys practice law.