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Becoming Too Virtual

The ability to work from home, have employees who work from theirs, and to be able to maintain the same level of productivity as if you were in the office is great, but it should not be a replacement for time actually there. If you are working too remotely, the lack of face to face interaction can cost you. Working loads of hours from home may be great for your family, but you need to show your face at the office often enough, for both your colleagues, and your entire business.

You need to show your face to your employees to give them the help and support that they need in order to work their full capacity. While it is easy to assign a task to a colleague with a line in an email, it takes a little of “over the shoulder” supervision to make sure that you are both on the same page for its implementation.

Maintaining a good amount of time in the office is also a great way to stay connected to the basics. You probably have a person who handles the logistics of the firm, but don’t let yourself lose site of those basics, because they will leave you disconnected and distant from your own firm if you get too caught up in the high-end stuff.

By staying connected to the body of your business, and maintaining some time “in office”, you will surely maintain a great work atmosphere, where your employees and clients feel free to approach you for help or clarification. Further, your face, and being visible to show you working diligently will inspire your colleagues, and avoid from having employees who expect all higher-level communication from their inbox. This in turn, will create a more personable business and a welcoming atmosphere, which your clients will most definitely pick up their first time in the door.

Comments

Thomas Kemp

I don't think it matter so much where you are, but what you are doing. Compare these 2 scenarios:

Traditional me: At the office 50+ hours per week with my staff, with me spending 20 to 25 hours of that time actually working, which these days means typing and reading on a computer. During this time I am trying not to be interrupted by staff and clients (so I can actually get work done). I am "there" so staff can drop in and talk/question/interact, but I am generally distracted, trying to get something done. The message I send to my staff is: I'm here. I'm very busy. I may even get pissed off if you bug me at the wrong moment. You get to guess when that might be.

More efficient me: At home working on the computer during set times in the week. Limited interruptions. Staff emails questions and updates so I can deal with them in my own time. When I am in the office, I am scheduled: time to be with clients, time to be on the phone. Time to be in court. And, time to meet with staff: That's right, time I have set aside to focus only on the concerns of a given team member during the week. The message I send to staff: I am very busy, but I value your contribution to this office enough to set out time to spend with you on a regular basis throughout the week to address your concerns and questions.

I am not sure that there is a value in and of itself in the activity of sitting behind your desk in a suit.

GAL

At my old firm, you were required (at least implicitly) to be in your chair by 7:30 AM. You only left to go to court. Otherwise, you worked. Being seen in your office was important for so many unimportant reasons.

At my new firm, I benefit from the freedom which independent practice and technology brings. But I do love working at my office shoulder to shoulder with my staff as much as from home or sitting at the bar.

Virtual works are about pure capitalistic productivity. I like that virtual promotes efficiency.

Unlike my old firm, it feels like I have tremendous flexibility. But going to the office is now a joy. I think I may even love Mondays.

Perhaps there is a balance. While you could practice law in an entirely virtual world for sure, there is joy in brainstorming face to face.

I am lucky to have the best of both worlds as part of my practice.

R4Dworkin

I definitely agree with both Mr. Kemp and GAL in that there is a balance to be made when it comes to virtual work and work in the office. A 9-5 is not necessary and in some cases counter-productive, as Mr. Kemp says, but it is extremely important to show your staff how you "value [their] contribution... enough to set out time to spend with [them]", because if you don't show that respect to your staff who are in the office everyday, how can you expect your clients to feel like they are important and respected, when they are in there for a fraction of the time?

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