Remote working can present a challenge to some professions, but thankfully technology has made it much easier. If you’re an in-house lawyer for an organisation and you need to work from home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, here’s how to manage it efficiently and professionally.
1. Check your broadband speed, and upgrade to a faster connection if necessary
A fast and reliable internet connection is important for any remote worker, but it can be absolutely vital for lawyers. You may spend a good chunk of your day in consultation and meetings with your employer and colleagues, so you simply can’t have a lagging or patchy connection. For you to do your best work, video calls need to be crystal clear and perfectly in sync.
2. Create a dedicated workspace in your home
Work and home life can easily bleed together when remote working. In some jobs, this may not matter too much. But for those in the legal profession where a professional image is everything, it’s essential to keep work and home life separate. It’s also important for your productivity and ability to concentrate.
With this in mind, you’ll need to create physical boundaries between your work station and the rest of your home. Commandeer the spare room and set up a comfortable, professional and properly equipped office space.
3. Maintain a professional image
In-house lawyers trade on their professionalism. Without it, their advice and expertise would lose credibility. This is why for lawyers in particular, maintaining a professional image even while working from home is crucial. You should ensure your office space has a tidy, minimalist and professional backdrop (a bookcase is usually a good choice) and that you are smartly dressed at all times –especially ahead of video conferences.
4. Set regular business hours
Keeping to set, regular working hours can help you to stick to a routine and remain productive. It can also help to manage your employer’s expectations on when they can reach you. You should always be in touch and contactable within business hours, and can then choose to switch off your phone and notifications when it’s officially ‘home time’.
5. Utilise tools to manage your time and prioritise tasks
Ordinarily as an in-house lawyer, at least part of your day’s tasks will be determined by your colleagues or employer. Someone will pop in with a request or in need of legal advice, and you may need to prioritise this task over everything else that’s sitting on your desk.
Working from home, the situation may be quite different. You’ll need to prioritise more tasks yourself, while also juggling video chats and teleconferences. Managing your time can be tough, but there are tools and systems available to help. For example, productivity apps such as Trello and Slack that other members of the company may also use for workload planning, collaboration and communication.
Even some basic systems can help, such as the Eisenhower Matrix. This is based on a famous quote from President Eisenhower in 1954, in which he discussed the key differences between the urgent and the important. The Matrix sorts tasks based on the following:
- If it’s both important and urgent – do it now
- If it’s important but not urgent – schedule a time to do it
- If it’s urgent, but not important – delegate it to someone else
- If it’s not urgent, and not important – consider taking it off your list.
And the golden rule – if there’s a task you’re likely to put off or procrastinate over, do it first thing.
If you’re all geared up for remote working and are searching for a new role as an in-house lawyer, get in touch with legal search and recruitment specialists Heriot Brown.