‘Working from Home’ – Let’s look at the positives.
Many have said that isolation has caused numerous industries to leap forward and develop at a much faster rate than they would have done if the world wasn’t now so reliant on technology and cloud based working.
As solicitors, we have noticed a substantial shift in the court system. The Courts of England and Wales are well known for being traditional and almost old-school in their approach, often insisting on original signatures rather than scanned copies and face to face hearings even if the parties live a distance away, and as a result, there can be a lot of waiting round in the conference rooms.
Since lockdown, the courts, as well as many other industries and institutions, have had no option but to throw themselves into remote systems. We have seen the introduction of video hearings as a default in the Family Courts, and also different guidelines for agreeing matters on paper to avoid the hearings all-together.
Parties are being encouraged to settle their cases outside of court, where possible, so as not to put further strain on the system. However, if a court application is unavoidable, it is imperative that we warn clients that delays in hearing their case can almost certainly be expected. The exception of course is the urgent and non-avoidable hearings such as care applications, domestic violence and interim maintenance.
As well as the shift in the courts, we have seen some companies thrive on having to take the plunge to trust their employees to work from home. Equally, some businesses have changed their focus and have used innovative ideas to shape the way that they provide services. Not only have we (and many others) had to get used to dealing with the new ways of doing our jobs, we have also been busy thinking about the new ways in which we can continue to be part of our local business community.
Those who are familiar with our firm may be aware of the Business Lounge networking event that takes place every 3-4 months at locations around Wilmslow/ Alderley Edge. These events attract around 40 – 50 guests each time and are a fantastic opportunity to network in a relaxed and friendly environment. Our most recent Business Lounge took place just before lockdown started on 5 March 2020 and was a huge success.
It would be around now that we would be looking to start planning the next event, but unfortunately, due to the lockdown restrictions and the associated impact on the hospitality industry, preparations have been paused for the time being.
We have considered numerous options in terms of how to continue to develop our network and professional relations throughout this difficult time, and as such, the Virtual Business Lounge was formed. We have made the most of using Zoom to conduct virtual networking online and, due the difference in approach, we have stepped up the frequency of these discussions. They are now taking place every Friday at 3:30pm.
We are thoroughly enjoying conducting our networking online. Whilst some may see online discussions are less personal, we have actually found the total opposite. Ordinarily, during our Business Lounge, our staff members can find that they don’t necessarily have the time to be able to chat to everyone as there is an element of ‘working the room’. The Zoom discussions are different, however, as the host is able to interact fully, get to know the guests and we have actually found that stronger relationships have been formed as a result.
We have discussed a wide variety of topics at the Virtual Business Lounge so far, including:
- how to get the most from working at home
- how to ensure that you take care of your mental health in isolation
- how to maintain good relationships with those in your household and in a professional capacity during lockdown; and
- what facilities are available to help you to do your job effectively whilst working from home.
We have been asking our guests to contribute to the topics that we discuss, and also give us ideas for future topics too.
We have had great feedback on these sessions and they have developed into other meetings outside of the Virtual Business Lounge itself. The comments that we have received indicate that the Zoom sessions do provide a more personal approach to networking, meaning that you can build on relationships and find out more about the other people and their industry/ personal circumstances than you would if you were simply attending a ‘networking drinks’ event.
As family law solicitors, we are extremely conscious that living in isolation and working from home can and will put extra tension on a lot of couples and families. We want to reassure you that whilst we may not physically be in the office, we are still able to provide a full range of family law services from the comfort of our own homes. As mentioned above, the courts are still functional and we can work around the new expectations/ directions to ensure that you still have a full range of options available to you whether that be in relation to separation, divorce, financial matters, children, pre-nups, post-nups etc.
If you would like to get in touch with our team in relation to family law issues, our offices numbers are still in use and will be re-directed to our mobiles. Please therefore call 01625 544650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be added to the guest list for our Business Lounge and/ or our Virtual Business Lounge then please contact Rebecca Ranson at email@example.com.