Working from home is something we are all having to deal with now, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dreadful!
Whether you love working from home or hate it, odds are that going forward the home office is going to be used a lot more than prior to 2020. You may be planning to make working from home permanent, or at least planning to split your work from home time with your actual law office.
Yes, there are clear pros to working at home: zero commute time, a more relaxed dress code, greater control over your schedule, and no need to spend money on takeout coffee or food. But at the same time, there are no shortages of cons as well. Here are some of the greatest drawbacks to working from, as well as solutions to help you build the most productive and safe work schedule and environment for your law firm going forward.
Working from home is definitely convenient, but if you have a significant other, kids, roommates, pets, or even crazy neighbors, then you will be battling new and unwelcome distractions. If you want to work from home while also being productive, then you will have to eliminate as many of these distractions as possible. It’s a good idea to let everyone know that if the door is shut, it’s work time. At the same time, we can also be our own worst nightmare when it comes to distractions. Especially when it comes to 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” and keep the door closed. You can’t be distracted if you’re not accessible.
The Neverending Workday
Working from home can have weird effects on your work schedule, it can compel you to feel like you must work more hours than usual. That’s a particular problem for solo lawyers who literally have to do everything to keep the business running.
But you can’t work nonstop 24/7, you will do yourself more harm than good. You must disconnect completely from your practice, otherwise your own performance, mental and physical health, and ultimately your law firm will suffer. That’s why you need to be proactive, set a schedule, and more importantly, share it with everyone, and stick to it.
Missing out on referrals
Fear of missing out on referrals is a huge reason why lawyers might not enjoy working from home. When all of your peers or referral sources are also working at home, it’s hard to have the conversations and interactions that lead to the exchange of referrals. And since referrals are often the greatest source of new business for lawyers, then you can see how troubling it can be.
The best solution for this is to reach out and communicate as much as possible. Pick up the phone and call a colleague just to say hello. Check in to see what’s new and how they are doing, and see where the conversation takes you. Even if you don’t talk about referrals, the mere fact that you reached out will ensure you’re fresh in their mind should a referral come up.
Productivity may increase when people work at home, but so do struggles with procrastination. It’s just easier to work when you’re in your law office surrounded by other busy lawyers than when you’re home alone with the TV, kids, or Xbox.
There are many different approaches to fighting procrastination. One such way is to use time-blocking. The concept is similar to creating a financial budget on paper, except in this case, you’re planning to spend your time rather than money.
You should start by planning out your day and everything you would like to get done. Next, divide those tasks into 15-minute blocks, because it will allow you to set realistic deadlines and not waste time.
When you think about it, your law office is a big part of your social life. Think about how much time you spend there each week.
It’s important to make sure your morale remains high because the feeling of being isolated can quickly bring it down. So one of the best things you can do, as difficult as it may be, is to remain social with friends and family. Set up a virtual happy hour or trivia night where everyone can get together and get a little social interaction. Socializing, even by video chat, is a lot better than spending all your time alone. Your practice, productivity, health, and mood will all thank you for it.