Working remotely has become a new normal for millions of Americans in the last week, but in general, working remotely is actually an appealing prospect to people in the workforce. According to a recent survey on LinkedIn, 82% of workers would like to work from home at least one day per week, and 57% would work from home at least three days per week if they could.
However, this massive shift in the workplace comes at a time of great turmoil. As the coronavirus epidemic continues its spread across the country, the economy is in tumult, communities are in lockdown to brace for the viral impact, and workers sent home to ensure safe social distancing. Suffice it to say, plans to manage the crisis have been put together quickly.
So this may not have been the way you planned on working from home. You can still do a lot of good work under these circumstances, though.
Keep your regular hours
When you’re home, it’s tempting to let some of your socially motivated work practices fall to the wayside. Jam out to Bruce Springsteen at full volume. Put your feet up in the break room (I.e., on your coffee table). Rock your coziest pajamas all day. (Actually, here’s why you should get dressed.)
But whatever you do, keep your work hours the same. Not only does it help you stay productive, it communicates to your clients that you’re committed to maintaining your professional standards and that you’re still on the job.
Prioritize: What work can be handled later?
That being said, everyone is in a period of major adjustment. Even the most organized and efficient lawyer needs time to adapt. As you figure out what that looks like for you and your firm, consider what deliverables and tasks are mission-critical.
To do this, categorize your to-do list into items that are:
- Important and urgent
- Examples: Case deadlines, invoicing, client communication
- Important but not urgent
- Examples: Writing articles for publication, relationship building
- Urgent but not important
- Examples: Unexpected meetings, email notifications
- Not urgent and not important
- Examples: Office fantasy football league
If communication with clients needs to stay a top priority, one thing that should be part of that plan is communicating what the current limitations are.
Are court systems closed – what does that mean for deadlines? What routine processes are still applicable? Can certain documents still be filed?
These are the kinds of questions that will be on your clients’ minds. If you can anticipate them before they need to ask, you’ll win major points for providing great client service under decidedly not-great circumstances.
Now more than ever is this time to have a plan for how you’re going to communicate with your clients if ever there was one. While it’s not necessary to send out updates with every piece of breaking news right now, anything change in local, state, or national policy right now should be communicated in some way to your clients.
Your clients are likely receiving high volumes of information from other brands, but that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from communicating. Professional service organizations such as lawyers add a lot of value when they show up (digitally, anyway) during difficult times. You can help them understand the changes going on, at least in part, by providing clarity on what is happening in your part of the professional world.
Through this all, it’s essential to remain focused on the human element. At the national level, there are economic worries and public health worries. At the personal level, there are fears for the health of one’s family and one’s self, job security, scarcity issues in stores, the list goes on. Clients are bound to be more anxious.
Taking a moment to pause and hear your clients, to connect with them on this scary moment in our nation, won’t just help make build a solid relationship with them. It may even help you process your experience.