Wegman Partners On Should Big Law Staff Have to Return to the Office Post-COVID

Although more office spaces have begun to open thanks to the growing number of vaccinated Americans, not all employees are eager to return to the office. Whether it be the reduced commute, concerns regarding health risks, or rusty social skills, many office workers are less than thrilled to give up their at-home offices. However, many companies have already begun to welcome workers back, with one study reporting 24.2 percent of employees have already returned to the office within the ten biggest cities in the United States.  For many law offices, returning workers to the office is a complex and challenging decision. Wegman Partners recognizes the complexity of this decision and hopes to aid the many law offices struggling to reach a resolution. Below, Wegman Partners will review the most common pros and cons of in-office and remote work. 

Increase in Productivity 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many managers were concerned that allowing employees to work remotely would drastically affect productivity. However, numerous studies that have been conducted during the pandemic have found that working remotely actually increases productivity. According to one study, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office counterparts or three additional weeks of work per year. One of the most effective ways for individuals to stay productive over long periods of time is to take frequent breaks throughout the day. As shown in the Pomodoro Technique, workers who take a moment to decompress and refocus are much more productive than their colleagues.

Issues with Communication 

For many companies, the most challenging aspect of remote work has been consistent communication. Many managers are worried that teams are not spending enough time communicating and that this may be negatively affecting team projects. According to a study performed by the Harvard Review, however, one of the most successful ways of human communication is through “bursts.” Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many law teams have started using burst communication, or periods of high communication followed by little to no communication. Research has shown that these periods of silence actually increase productivity and individual thinking among team members. By cutting down on unnecessary contact, team productivity can actually increase. 

Anxiety Over In-Office Environment 

According to a recent study published by the American Psychological Association, nearly 49 percent of working Americans feel anxious about returning to an in-person work environment once the pandemic ends. The study found that vaccination status did not affect this unease, as 48% of vaccinated participants said they too felt uncomfortable with in-person interactions. Experts believe this is primarily due to new strains of COVID-19 present in various countries and concerns over the COVID vaccine’s effectiveness past six months. For law office managers, this unease should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to have staff members return to the office full-time.

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