b'a discussion on remote workingBenefits of flexible working While the direct beneficiaries of flexible working includeFirms need to understand how their employees are performing employees, firms, clients and employees families, we have alsoand ensure the outputs and quality that is required of their role. learned from the early reductions in greenhouse gas emissionsThe lack of direct supervision and physical access to all members and paper consumption the environment can also be aof a team is a longstanding argument to keep teams working in a beneficiary of flexible working.common location. This direct contact also provides opportunity for supportive relationships. This aspect with work needs to be Faced with their office closures resulting from the COVIDconsidered and addressed with alternatives for remote working pandemic, law firms prior investment in in flexible workingteams. technology, processes and policies enabled a quick transition to working from home practices. Existing flexible working programsRemote working increases the demands and complexity of provided a critical foundation for organisational resilience andsecurity where access to information is required away from commercial continuity. The transition was further aided by aoffice-based locations and office owned IT equipment. Security universal acceptance that the arrangements where necessary andbreaches can have devastating impacts on a firms reputation and an increased patience and tolerance for learning.therefore security of client information and commercial sensitive information is a critical risk that all law firms must manage with the Benefits experienced by the firm increased uptake of remote working. operation resilience in times of extreme disruptionSome employees find that working from home makes it more attracting and retaining talentdifficult to separate their work and home lives and contributes to greater diversity and inclusion through increaseda weakened work life balance and increased stress and mental ill accessibility of workhealth. Over time it will be useful to understand if this is a result of higher engagement and reduced absenteeism leading toshort term COVID related personal and professional pressure or higher individual and team performancedirectly related to not working from a central office. Most firms improved organisational performance and productivity. have programs to support staff members with mental health Reduced overheads and operational costsconcerns whose delivery will need to be adapted to the issues Reduced environmental footprintand delivery of remote settings. Benefits experienced by staff Ergonomics and other occupational health and safety factors are important considerations in the design and fit out of law firms Higher productivity offices. AusLSA members currently deliver training and ongoing Greater flexibility for family and personal commitmentscampaigns together with information in their induction programs Reduced commute time and expenseto reduce the risk of work-related health issues. However, law Reduced time traveling andfirms do not control the design and fit out, or the work Generally reduced formality allowing more relaxedbehaviours, of its employees home offices. Firms should consider relationshipscommencing the remote working pre inspection and approval to Benefits to the environmentensure the suitability of the home office environments for their workers. Lower electricity consumption Lower emissions from travelWe dont know how sustainable the observed increases in Lower paper useproductivity and value are. We need to understand how much the Reduced traffic and emissions from commutingface to face relationships established in the conventional work setting support the current performance and if the strength of these relationship and the firms culture can be maintained with a Issues with flexible workinghigh rate of remote working. Without face-to-face interactions, some worry that workplace culture will slip and create social It is already clear that not everyones experiences with COVID andisolation which may be one of the biggest roadblocks to flexible working has been positive and for some employees andexpanding remote work when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. firms, flexible working is creating or exacerbating problems thatEarly information shows that some costs and environmental need to be addressed. It will take some time to determine whichimpacts of operating offices and managing work have reduced. of these can be mitigated by firms adapting their processes orTravel, electricity and paper consumption have all reduced in the innovating new ways of working with and supporting theirshort term and there is strong potential that rental and other workforce.overheads could reduce further in the medium term. We need to'