According to statistics from the Office for National Statistics, about three-quarters of people who worked from home in some capacity found an improvement in their work life balance. On paper, these workers should effectively be given an extra 12 days a year, using the back of the envelope accounts. The average commute in the UK is about an hourmultiply this by two and say the average hybrid worker is at home three days a week, which is more than 48 weeks in a year, giving you 12 days you haven’t spent in the car or on the train.
Legal team managers and legal team managers need to think about how best to use this “free” time – whether it makes sense to emphasize increased production, or encourage teams to use this time to focus on mental well-being, hobbies and passions outside of work.
What does the evidence suggest?
Generally, Research Looking at workloads and the length of the working day it was concluded that those who work from home work longer days – significantly. Data from NordVPN teams shows that workers in the UK, Austria, Canada, and the US logged into their computers for more than two hours a day than before the pandemic. This may have been an acceptable practice during lockdowns, but it is not feasible, realistic or sustainable to expect workers to continue to work long hours. In fact, this is the reason why issues related to exhausted, exhausted and dissatisfied workers looking for new opportunities are prominent.
Many public forums may tend to be inactive – after all, these extra hours fall outside official business hours, and one opinion might be that lawyers are able to decide for themselves whether they want an extra 12 days to follow through on emails. In some workplaces, this may not be an issue at all, but it is very easy for people to get into bad habits of checking emails early and earlier and scheduling meetings before the official start of the work day, just to get a head start.
This is where issues such as “electronic presence” can arise and the culture of long hours and online presence can easily spread. People then feel pressured to keep up with their colleagues and the volume of out-of-hours emails can increase rapidly. This is harmful for a number of reasons – current attendance affects the bottom line Research (4 pages / 538KB PDF) from the Center for Mental Health calculates that current presence costs the British economy £15.1 billion annually, while absenteeism costs £8.4 billion. It also leads to fatigue, mental health issues, and a misplaced perception of what productivity looks like.
Actions GCs can take
As we all face a future in which hybrid work will play a fundamental role, it is important for leaders to consider how this will affect teams and adjust policies, attitudes, and approaches accordingly. The first step can be really simple – letting the team know they have an extra 12 days and encouraging them to use that time to support their well-being, whatever that takes. Make it clear that long-term culture is not adopted for long hours and can be harmful.
Establishing a system to monitor the average length of workdays, and which team members check in early and check out late, is also important to ensure any potential problems are detected and dealt with before they become established and accepted business practices.
Alternative approaches could also be considered – for example, offering yoga classes at home at the beginning of the day to encourage use of time for something else rather than work.
The pandemic has seen a shift in working patterns that will not reverse. Many teams have embraced working from home believing that things will return to “normal,” but now we’re starting a new normal and we must adapt accordingly.
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