Geoff got more out of his team when they were in the office, and the End Times didn't change that.
Covid has drastically altered the working lives of lawyers and law firm staff, and its huge impact has been reflected in early responses to the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021 Survey.
Some lawyers voiced concerns that partners were falling out of sync with their firm's official working from home policy.
"They won't admit it, but the firm management clearly doesn't really like the fact we are working from home", said a Macfarlanes lawyer. "That said, they've been at pains to take the right steps to keep people safe."
"Officially the firm have been supportive about working from home", said another Macs lawyer. "However, certain partners have used more subtle methods to put pressure on people to come in to the office when they don't feel 100% comfortable".
"Full credit though, the firm didn't do any furlough for GO, Print and on site staff", they added. "For sub-contracted services where staff were furloughed, the firm topped up those individuals salaries to ensure they were on 100%."
At Birketts, "Even now, during Lockdown 2.0, there are partners who are still expecting people to go to the office", said a respondent. "Some partners are said to have exerted pressure on people to come in to the office, but of course no one openly talks about it", said a solicitor at Bird & Bird.
When King & Spalding's offices reopened with Covid measures in place, "certain partners actively and proudly flouted rules by not wearing masks", said a lawyer, and asked associates or trainees "to come in even if they were uncomfortable".
But many firms were also given credit for letting staff make up their own minds. "No one as far as I am aware was forced back", said a lawyer at Browne Jacobson, a sentiment echoed by many respondents.
Some partners may be getting slated, but IT staff have been unexpectedly praised, pretty much across the board. Cursing tech is as normal as breathing for lawyers in private practice, but a global pandemic was apparently all that was needed to make everyone realise the techies were heroes.
"Our IT team stepped up massively when this shitstorm hit, and should be revered forevermore", declared a partner at DAC Beachcroft. "I've had less IT failure at home than I ever had at the office", said a junior solicitor at Debevoise & Plimpton.
The IT staff were "absolute saviours", said a Taylor Vinters lawyer, "and worked their arses off to make it happen - whilst the management and partners have been squeezing their budget on a weekly basis".
At Linklaters, "the operations team have been amazing, as have the IT team and others who have kept everything working". And at DLA Piper "one upside" of the cyber attack in 2017 was a decent IT infrastructure now coming in to its own.
Tech was the "one thing done well" at Womble Bond Dickinson, said a WBD partner. "In fact, so good no one wants to go back to the offices". It meant the firm had a "big problem when we just spent so much on real estate", especially in London, which "was a big risk pre COVID and post COVID is turning into a disaster".
The survey has also revealed a preoccupation with a uniquely Covid perk - the home office allowance.
Respondents flagged that Latham & Watkins provided an "extremely stingy £100" for WFH hardware, whereas Addleshaw Goddard and Herbies handed out a well-received £200, and Macfarlanes recently increased its grant to £500.
Slaughter and May "haven't given us any money" for tech or office equipment "unlike every other firm in existence", moaned a lawyer at the Magic Circle firm.
They're not the only ones making do. "I've had to buy my own IT equipment and told that a laptop might be available first quarter 2021", griped a Clyde & Co partner. "It has taken 8 months to get an office chair and they have only just authorised a £100 budget for a home desk...And as for calling it a 'gold command' structure, don't get me started".
Spare a thought for the junior lawyer at BLM, who developed "awful back pain from sitting on a kitchen chair", but said they were refused a free office chair and "told to just put a cushion behind my back".
Is your firm being Covidiotic or Vacctastic? Rate it on Covid, pay and more.