Here are tips lawyers can use to elevate their work-from-home experience.
Many lawyers across the country are spending more time working from home than ever before. Working from home can be highly productive and enjoyable, but it can also come with its own challenges.
Virtual Law Office’s (VLO’s) have been around for years, in fact, some of the most successful members of Law Firm Suites’ community use a virtual office while working from home. This is very common in New York City but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, lawyers across the nation are having to adapt as well.
For those new to remote working, we wanted to share some tips lawyers can use to elevate their work-from-home experience. Take a look for yourself, soak up the advice, and start to improve your law firm’s remote working techniques.
Don’t roll out of bed and start working
One challenge that every lawyer comes across when working remotely is keeping their work life and personal life separate. Most people think this applies to the end of the day, but in reality, it can be even harder in the morning. It is very easy to now push that alarm back, wake up later, roll out of bed, open the laptop, and get to work. This is a slippery slope though.
Creating a new morning routine focusing on yourself before working will go a long way in creating new boundaries as well as setting the productive tone for the rest of your workday.
Even if you’re not a morning person, and someone who used to rush out the door before work, consider how the simple act of getting to work helped you to mentally switch into work mode. So our suggestion is to take some time for yourself every morning, even if it is only for a few minutes. Enjoy that cup of coffee, get changed out of your pajamas, go for a short run, catch up on yesterday’s news or sports scores, or whatever you want! Your work isn’t going to go anywhere, so taking a few minutes for yourself is only going to help you to do your best work once you get started.
Create a workspace that you will enjoy being in all-day
Find someplace in your home where you can separate your workspace from your personal space. Preferably, this should be in a separate room with a door that you can close, and it should be as far away as possible from the noises that your family or pets might make.
If you have options, choose the room based on what works best for your personality. If morning light motivates you, choose a room that is east-facing with a lot of windows. You will be spending a lot of time in this room. Decorate it in a way that makes you happy. Paint the walls yellow if you like. Make the room as comfortable for yourself as you can. A minor investment in your workspace will pay dividends in productivity in the years to come.
You’ll also want to do your research on ergonomic equipment for your home law office such as a chair, desk, monitor, and other accessories. No matter if you plan on working from home for a few months or a few years, the right equipment and design in your home law office will do a lot to protect your health, comfort, productivity, and sanity!
Set a schedule and stick to it
In the age of digital, always-on personal and professional communication, this may be hard to do, especially if you are a solo lawyer that is responsible for every single thing that must get done.
However, even if this is the case, one of the best things you can do to ensure you get the most done, without costing you every waking hour of every day is to set a schedule, share it, and stick to it. Let people know when you’ll be working. Describe how you work best: Whether that’s “You’re free to check in with me from time to time” (probably not) or “Only bother me unless someone is hurt or the house is on fire” (more likely).
While scheduling your work time is very important, it is equally as important to schedule your breaks as well. Your calendar may be full of tasks, calls, meetings with clients, networking follow-ups, and a million other things, which is why your schedule should include break periods. Breaking up the day and moving your body enables you to refresh and can increase your productivity when you return to your work. If the weather is nice, try working outside or taking calls while taking a walk through your neighborhood.
Use an executive suite as a second option
Your home office may be perfectly adequate to roll up your sleeves and do the “dirty work” of a legal practice (drafting, legal research, telephone negotiations), but meeting clients, employees, or adversaries in your home may not be practical.
Or, you may find it helpful from time-to-time to get out of your office and work somewhere else.
Coffee shops can be one alternative, but they can be loud, and the use of public Wi-Fi may present confidentiality concerns. Libraries are quiet, but offer very little privacy and are not great places for meeting.
Also, this will help your practice to have a professional address. When people look up your firm online or send you mail, it doesn’t look great if that address is to your home in the suburbs or apartment in the city!
Distractions can shut down the progress and growth of any sized law firm no matter when you work. When you’re eager to succeed it is easy for your focus to get sucked up for by new ideas or concepts that distract from the main goal. We are all human and it can and will happen to everyone.
For most people, the biggest distractions are the TV, your phone, and social media. Overcoming these distractions is a matter of willpower. Keep the TV off during work hours and put your phone on “do not disturb” when you really need to focus. You can’t be distracted if you’re not accessible. Lastly, only allow yourself to check social media or email during breaks.