You may ask yourself, “Why would we need a formal full-time flex policy? Our attorneys are professionals and they know when they can come and go and when it’s appropriate to work from home.”
While this may be true in some cases, consider the challenges the firm faces when an attorney telecommutes 5 days a week, without his or her managing partner’s full support. Or what if an attorney is hesitant to work flexibly because he believes it will be held against him when his performance is reviewed? And how will your firm attract new law school graduates if you can’t legitimately state that you have a full-time flexible work policy and you can’t prove how many attorneys use it?
We advise you to create a formal written full-time flexible work policy to prevent misunderstandings in regards to boundaries, to avoid inconsistencies in usage, and to clearly articulate your firm’s commitment to full-time flex (which we all know is more and more important to today’s law school graduates).
Make sure everyone is on the same page. When it comes to working full-time flex, it’s important that expectations for attorneys and staff are clearly documented and boundaries are set. It’s also important to articulate legitimate business reasons why a certain boundary has been set (for example limiting telecommuting to three days per week to allow for face-to-face client or team meetings). The policy should outline which types of full-time flex are acceptable to the firm (telecommuting, flexible start-end times, and annualized hours, etc.) and what client service expectations must be met.
Reduce bias towards flex and improve your firm’s culture. Implementing a formal written full-time flexible work policy allows you to prevent inconsistencies with usage among practice groups and offices and to reduce stigma related to flex use, particularly among diverse groups. The firm will be able to provide a standard to hold supervisors accountable for supporting their commitment to flexibility. This will encourage a level playing field and allow all attorneys to feel comfortable working flexibly.
Offer law school graduates more work-life control. Simply stating that your firm supports flexible schedules does not prove to recent law school graduates that you have an official policy and that your attorneys actually use it. Today’s graduates want confirmation that your firm is committed to work-life control and that your attorneys feel comfortable and are successful working a full-time flex schedule. With a formal policy, your firm will be recognized as a credible leader in advancing work-life control and will attract top recruits.
We encourage you to participate in our 2016 Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey to find out how your firm’s full-time flex policy measures up to the rest of the industry. Contact us for more information regarding full-time flex policies (including how to get started with creating a policy) and best practices.