In-Person or Hybrid Workforces Roundtable: Part 2 Summary

By Scott David posted 08-16-2021 10:36


In-Person or Hybrid Workforces Roundtable: Part 2 Summary 

I again had the pleasure to participate in an ILTA roundtable discussing Return to Work and Hybrid Workforce topics.  Click Here to see my recap of the first roundtable.  As is the policy with ILTA roundtables, it was not recorded.  However, I did again capture some highlights below: 

We again started out the roundtable with several polls, several of the polls were the same questions as before.  This time the results were different probably more due to different participant firms than firms changing their plans.  We asked about how often firms expected different roles to be in the office.   

  • For lawyers 43% was the leader at 2-3 days per week in the office followed by don’t know at 27%.  1-2 days per week and fully in tied at 13% with zero days in last at 3%.   
  • For non-IT support staff 2-3 days was the winner with a larger margin at 53% followed by don’t know at 20%.  Fully in was next at 13% then 0 days at 10% with 1-2 days in last at 3%.   
  • For IT support staff unsurprisingly fully onsite was the leader but only 33%.  2-3 days was second at 30% with don’t know coming in third at 27%.  Zero days at 7% and 1-2 days at 3% were the lowest two.    
  • It’s a different story for Non-Service Desk IT staff.  2-3 days is the leader at 40%.  Don’t know was next at 23%.   1-2 and fully back tied for next at 13%.  Last was zero days at 10%.    

 The numbers might have differed from before to varying degrees and there still is a large amount of uncertainty.  However, one thing is consistent, firms need to be ready for workplace flexibility. 

We also asked a new question initially, “Are your return to office plans changing due to the current surge in COVID infections?”  Very balanced responses to our options:  20% said yes we are postponing some or all of our offices, 30% said not yet, but we’re expecting changes soon, 27% said no changes on the horizon and 23% said I don’t know. 

We then discussed what firms are doing to understand how many people are in their workspaces on specific days.  Some are editing their existing in/out email communications to share work locations; others are using network information or key card access logs. 

The conversation turned to a discussion about hiring practices.  We asked about who has hired fully remote workers and if so for what positions.  I had expected more responses focused in the IT area, but we heard a lot of responses indicating lawyers, paralegals and roles within finance teams are where firms had majority of their fully remote hires.   We also talked about if someone is fully remote and they did need to make an onsite visit while being more than a commute away, who would pay.  Generally, it seemed like firms would pay for this infrequent but required travel.  Also, several firms are limiting existing remote employees who request remaining fully remote to those in states where they already have a presence, which is similar to our previous roundtable. 

For those with virtual teams for the long haul, we talked a little bit about what leaders are doing to ensure/maintain their firm/office culture.  Some discussed group brainstorming activities, larger quarterly department meetings (both virtual and in person), book clubs, virtual game shows and even scavenger hunts around your desk at home. 

Another topic we discussed is the blurring of start/end of workdays.  We popped up our last poll and this challenge registered with 76% responding that they felt as though their day was starting earlier and ending later than pre-pandemic.  The best suggestions we had here were setting up boundaries and making sure leaders help their teams feel comfortable doing so. 

Overall, the discussion was great, and I know it led me to having several ideas I’m going to share at my firm.  A big thanks to all those who participated.