What Have We Learned? Updates from the ILTA December 2021 Travel Survey
Since March of 2020, ILTA has been asking volunteers, partners, members, and sister organizations, what their COVID-19 plans have been… We’ve talked back-up plans and remote work, taken a look at plans for attending virtual and in-person conferences, in-office work, travel, and much more. We’ve sat with the data and then further expanded our questions to be more inclusive, to reach a greater audience, all while trying to forecast a future that is ever-changing.
Recently, we have completed a December 2021 Travel Survey; this survey was sent pre-Omicron variant and we believe that our ILTA family was hopeful, as we all are, that things are on the positive upswing. With that in mind, we’d like to share a few takeaways from the December 2021 Travel Survey; please note that the Survey data is anonymized and many of the long-form answers have been consolidated.
First, let’s take a look at Work situations: We asked, “Which of the Following Best Describes Your Current Work from Home Situation?”
For our Business Partners, with a 92% response rate, to this question, only 3% of the responses were that they were back in office (as of December 2021).
50% of our valued Partners told us that they were able to work from home daily, but this was an optional choice. We believe that this trend of working from home, versus a mandatory office return is influenced by where the majority of the respondent partner’s main offices were: larger, coastal cities; this will be a comparison question and data set for future surveys.
As for our ILTA members: answers for this question were slightly different: 34% of member respondents can work from home, if they choose, but almost half are back to working a split office schedule (the charts below mention “Split Schedule”, i.e. working from home AND working in office). ILTA members (working for firms in the USA) have been, traditionally, mostly in office. With the marked COVID change, in March 2020 to a much more work-from-home environment, this is a gentle reverse back to what we were seeing pre-COVID-19.
Further, ILTA contends that we may see, in future 2022 Travel Surveys, a return to more in-home work. Future COVID variants, changes in commercial real estate, mergers and acquisitions in the legal tech space, and proof of vaccination status are all believed to play a role in remote work scenarios.
After seeing what ILTAns were doing in-office or remotely, we took it a step further: what would they be permitted to do in regard to work Travel? We asked, “What Travel Restrictions has Your Organization Put in Place?” (as of December 2021)
We saw immediately that 20% of respondent Law Firms had a “no non-essential travel” policy in place; we had seen this previously, and it is balanced, heavily, by another 30% of firms saying they have “No Restrictions”
Ultimately, we had a clear breakdown; we found that our Members were still working under a few more restrictions than we had thought. We know that COVID-19 has changed the way firms and partners alike have adapted their offices and organizations. We know that change does not take place overnight. We look forward to the next Survey to see if changes have been made, in 2022.
Our ILTA Business Partners were a little more open to travel. We found that over 40% had resumed normal travel and that this travel came without further, non-governmentally mandated, restrictions. We take this as a good sign for our greater legal tech community; when our MSPs, our solution experts, and partners are able to head onsite, to new locations, to conferences and venues, it opens the door for more firms and organizations to find that new and sustainable normal.
With that knowledge, we tackled conference attendance. Every year, our goal is to make ILTACON safe and accessible for the greatest number of participants. In 2021, ILTACON was back in person, in Las Vegas, and we are intending to be in person in National Harbor in August 2022.
We asked the question, “For ILTACON 2022, do you plan to…?” in December 2021.
Our Membership showed a slight hesitation to attend, as of December 2021, but we believe that the Undecided populace will have greater clarity as 2022 continues, amid return to work and additional COVID boosters, willingness to travel, and restrictions are altered.
Our valued Partners were more optimistic: with a large percentage already planning on attending, with another third undecided, we strongly feel that returning to ILTACON, to other conferences, to in-person meetings, is decidedly on the upswing.
Finally, we did take budgets into account when we asked about remote work, return to office, travel restrictions, and attending ILTACON. We know that many organizations have had to adapt, and quickly, to a changing marketplace. We also know that firm size, organizational structures, culture, people, and more can complicate or adjust fiscal considerations for travel.
With that said, very few (only 3 Business Partners, along with only 1 Corporate Legal Department, and 11 Law Firms) returned an answer of “I have less money to spend on technology projects than I did in 2021” to the question “Which Statements ...Characterize Your 2022 Budget as Compared to Your 2021Budget?” We at ILTA think this is a very, very optimistic note to end on: Hope.
We hope for the greater legal technology ecosystem to be able to return, safely, together, to learn and collaborate. We know that the two years have been difficult, and we hope to use our March 2022 Travel Survey to release a much fuller picture of the legal tech landscape over the last full year.
We thank those who have participated in our ILTA Travel Surveys and we cannot wait to share further results. #Survey