FAL As the world re-evaluates the way they work, FAL Lawyers have decided not to mandate a return to the office in 2022. Instead, they are allowing staff to work from home as much as they want, should they choose to do so. Of course, not mandating a return to the office makes sense for law firms in the short term as we continue to navigate the era of mandatory isolation for positive COVID cases, and voluntary isolation to avoid catching COVID before important events. However, FAL has committed to keeping uncapped remote work a permanent option, even as the pandemic becomes a historical footnote (albeit, a significant one). The decision to embrace remote work came after consulting with staff and key industry stakeholders about what the future of work looks like to them. And In June 2022, FAL moved into newly built offices that will facilitate a hybrid work model. FAL partner Chloe Moorfoot says a realistic view of the role of offices in a post-pandemic law firm fulled the firm’s decision to move. “Our new offices are purpose-built with collaboration in mind. They feature spaces where staff can work alongside each other, as well as designated areas to unwind and socialise – something many of us miss when we work from home. An interactive collaboration space will give remote workers the opportunity to dial in and interact with their co-workers without having to go into the office, so they aren’t missing out on those benefits of working in-person.” FAL Lawyers’ new office has been purpose-built to support a hybrid work model. Full-Time Office Work: A COVID Casualty A survey by Slack confirms what many of us already suspected: The vast majority (72%) of employees prefer a hybrid working model where they have the flexibility to work from home part-time. But what might be slightly more surprising for some is that of the rest of the employees surveyed, more preferred working from home full-time (13%) than working full-time in the office (12%). So, when it comes to attracting and retaining talented legal professionals, law firms must be able to demonstrate a willingness to allow for remote work. If they don’t, they’re diluting their talent pool. And not only should firms allow remote offices, but they also need to modernise their physical office. As we move to a new era of work, offices must act as a complement to remote work as part of a holistic hybrid work model. For law firms, the message is clear: There is no going back to the way things were. Hybrid Work’s Impact on Junior Lawyers’ Development One negative impact of the transition to hybrid work (and possible justification for mandating a return to the office full-time) is that senior lawyers working remotely is costing junior lawyers learning opportunities. And it is a challenge FAL Lawyers will need to solve if they are to make remote work a net positive for lawyer development. But for Chloe, there is no alternative, as aiming to work around remote work will simply delay the inevitable – to the detriment of a new generation of talented lawyers. “When I was starting out, simply being around senior lawyers and learning how they work was invaluable to my development in the profession. So, it’s important we look at ways to not only emulate that outside the office but improve the learning environment for junior lawyers in a virtual setting. FAL’s interactive collaboration space is helping to bridge the gap in lawyer development created by remote work. And as we get used to the new way of working, we have made it a priority to continue to apply the latest professional development innovations in remote working environments.” As hybrid work becomes the new normal, FAL Lawyers aim to lead the charge into the future and define what it means to be a boutique law firm in a post-pandemic world.