Flexible is possible
11 Feb 19
As this month's lead feature illustrates, large and small firms alike can operate flexible working practices, and there appear to be few issues with clients when they do
As the brinkmanship over Brexit continues, we leave it aside this month (but check out an interesting online article from the Law Societies’ Brussels Office on what might be achieved at this stage as Theresa May attempts to renegotiate that backstop).
Instead, having reported last month on the prevalence among practising solicitors of the desire for a better work-life balance, we thought we should look more closely at how flexible arrangements can in fact be made to work despite what some consider a given, that clients demand 24/7 availability.
Indeed, so far as appears from the solicitors who contributed to our lead feature, many clients practise flexible hours too, and are quite happy if people take time out for child related commitments, or other pursuits, at certain times during the day, if they are then available at other times which may in fact also suit the client better.
Nor should it be thought that this can only work in big firms with large teams. Smaller offices, and smaller teams within larger practices, described in our feature illustrate that adopting a flexible (or agile as some call it) ethos, a way can usually be found to accommodate both work and other aspects of life.
No doubt pressures will arise, and lines may be in danger of becoming blurred if IT-enabled remote working becomes hard to put aside even at what should be non-working times, but that is a management issue – and another message to emerge from our discussions is that buy-in should be from the top down if the concept is to work properly. And why shouldn’t that happen? As one respondent put it, the colleagues who will lead the business in the future want more flexibility in their working life.
Much is also being made at present of the effect of childhood trauma on life prospects and behaviour in later life. Those leading the push for greater awareness of ACEs (acute childhood experiences) are bringing to Scotland next month two American judges who have dedicated their courts to a better understanding of the mental health issues of those who appear before them, and we hope that this will give rise to some good Journal copy in due course.
At the same time, should more attention not also be paid to ways of reducing the risk of ACEs occurring in the first place, or mitigating their effects if they do? That may be a big ask in these days of reduced social cohesion and greater exposure of children to all sorts of potentially harmful experiences, with little prospect of effective legal controls. But that should not stop us raising awareness at this level also.