coronacommute

Absolutely fuming under that box and bag.


Business services staff at Charles Russell Speechlys, Watson Farley & Williams and Fieldfisher have accused their firms of putting their lives in danger by compelling them to come to work during the ongoing pandemic. CRS and WFW rejected the claims and said attendance was voluntary.

This week, in response to a sharp rise in the number of recorded coronavirus infections in the UK, the government ditched its earlier advice that people should return to their workplaces, and instead advised the public in England to "work from home if you can".

But sources at several firms have told RollOnFriday they are concerned that management is tilting too far towards business needs, and neglecting the health risk to staff - and those with whom they are in contact - which travelling to work represents.

Insiders at Charles Russell Speechlys said support teams, and in particular members of the IT function, were being required to attend the office for a week each month on a rota system.

"We are worried about getting on public transport by commuting many, many miles into London and risking our health", said one CSR employee affected by the alleged policy. "The R rate is up, the alert levels have increased and we are still being asked to come in". 

Another Charles Russell Speechlys employee said it made little sense because they had been carrying out their roles from home "efficiently and effectively" since March.

"They are risking lives in order to keep the offices physically open, even though we can all operate efficiently at home", said a third source. "We are all very annoyed and worried that they are endangering not only our own health, but the health of our loved ones if any one of us caught it". 

However, CRS denied making anyone attend the office. "Staff who can work from home have been encouraged to do so", Charles Russell Speechlys said in a statement. "However we are keeping our offices open for those who cannot work from home or anyone who needs to come to the office for work or wellbeing reasons, on an entirely voluntary basis”.

After the government announcement, Watson Farley Williams "caringly" emailed their PA team "to assure them that they are still required to come into the office one day a week", said a source.

WFW was open about its expectations. "As an international business, a number of client matters are being dealt with which need to be supported by a cross-section of our staff working in the office", it said in a statement.  "This includes lawyers and business operations, as well as some PAs". 

However, it disputed claims that PAs were being "forced" to work in the office. "No one has to come in if they are shielding or have other concerns around doing so", said WFW. "The health and well-being of our people remains our primary concern and we have gone to great lengths to ensure the office is a Covid-safe working environment. Our staff are aware they must observe the strict rules in place if they need to attend the office and those that have come in have found it an extremely positive experience".

At Fieldfisher, the marketing team "have been told they HAVE to return to the office at least 3 days a week", said a source, on the orders of their Business Development director. The edict is not being extended to Fieldfisher's lawyers or other support teams, said the source.

Fieldfisher did not respond to requests for comment.

Are you being muscled into attending the office against your will? Or are you being forced to stay at home by nanny state managers? Tip off ROF.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 25 September 20 08:15

Yeah, my firm's 'voluntary' is bracketed in language which makes it sound a lot more like 'compulsory'.

Anonymous 25 September 20 08:17

I know a guy at CRS. Absolutely beasted for the past decade. He's made a hell of a trade off to make partner before 35. Looks about late 40s now. Was even working on the morning of a holiday and nearly missed his flight on a day of annual leave. 

Anonymous 25 September 20 08:31

I have been forced back into the office 3 days a week, which yes, I’m not particularly happy about due to the risks etc., but do you not think that this will be around for a very, very long time, so at some point, we do just have to learn to live with it?  We can’t stay working from home full time forever, so what are we waiting for, a vaccine? I think you’ll find you are more at risk going to your local shop or pub rather than your office.

CRS-Cross 25 September 20 08:44

@08:17

Beasted? At CRS?

Think your mate’s been having you on. CRS is by far one of the cushtiest gigs in the city.

Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson 25 September 20 08:55

I don't know what they're worried about.

We've got a world beating track and trace system coming in 2023.

We'll be fine.

Anonymous 25 September 20 09:16

Firms' "official policies" are often at odds with what seniors say behind closed doors... 

Fred Shred 25 September 20 09:20

Could this silly firm explain the logic?  

"As an international business, a number of client matters are being dealt with which need to be supported by a cross-section of our staff working in the office", 

In other words, our clients are not in our office (many are overseas), but your client in Amsterdam or Hull or wherever really, really cares that you switch on your laptop in e.g. Fleet Place EC4 instead of from your home in e.g. W2; and we all know that clients really, really care about the identity of your Internet provider.  They all want your Zoom call to be on your office wifi, not your home wifi, even if your home wifi is superfast.  

When I worked in private practice in law firms, none of my clients were based in our law firm office (obviously).  Most of them weren't even in the same country.  Apart from the very occasional meeting, my clients had no visibility of me whatsoever for 99% of the time.  And when I worked in-house, most of my internal customer colleagues were in our other global offices, often in different time zones.  They had no visibility of me either.  This lack of visibility is true of any knowledge worker (lawyer, or accountant, or architect, or IT professional etc.).  My location when I switched on my laptop or made a call was and is a matter of complete indifference to them.  

Say you're working on a deal.  Lawyer A does the shareholding docs.  Lawyer B does the banking docs.  Lawyer C might look at (if relevant) the construction docs.  Etc.  All such inputs are modular and self-contained.  How it works is lawyer A e-mails the draft to layer B and says I need you to do a facility agreement for this deal, deal summary and shareholder drafts attached fyi.  Any qs, mail me back.  

In other words, they're all self-contained, modular tasks, carried out by people largely working by themselves, EVEN WHEN THEY'RE IN THE OFFICE.  The small bit of collaboration at the margins is easily do-able by mail or call, and often happens that way anyway, EVEN WHEN PEOPLE ARE IN THE FLIPPING OFFICE.  

So, yes, of course they "need to be supported by a cross-section of our staff" - absolutely.  It's the "working in the office" piece which is unadulterated horse droppings, devoid of any logic whatsoever.  

This has bugger all to do with serving clients and everything to do with management by control-freakery.

In his book, “Organise for Complexity”, Niels Pflaeging notes that:

“… the underlying perception of management is a specific perception of human nature: According to this concept, in principle, people are fundamentally trying to avoid work and must be forced or seduced to perform.  They must be controlled.  Taylor’s principle of hierarchical division between thinkers and doers is deeply rooted in this theory, and while this principle was effective during the industrial age, unfortunately that has remained the standard way of leading organisations to this very day.”

All the folks in those firms who wish to work from home should club together and start a new virtual firm and tell their dinosaurs to step outside and book an appointment with the next meteorite.  

Unhappy 25 September 20 09:22

Our city firm is the same, have bedn told we have to be in and that the office is safe. Not taking into account the bus and tube I have to take to get into the city. I was told the risk is within the family household. I live on my own so I am quite safe at home. My risk is the bus and tube. My job can be done at home. They really don’t care!

Anonymous 25 September 20 09:42

If you don't like it Unhappy then resign; I'm sure there are millions of the unemployed who will be quite happy to take the very small risk involved and have a job.

Boo 25 September 20 09:53

I’m aware of a firm where trainees and support staff have been told they have to be in 5 days a week (not even notionally optional), with qualified fee earners apparently more flexible but in reality the pressure is on to be in most days. No doubt that trainees are the worst affected, in terms of access to supervision/training, by WFH, but to mandate those least able to speak up to come in because of apparent ‘business needs’... sticks in the craw somewhat.

Do entirely take the point above about living with the risk but is that a call individual employers should be making for their junior/support staff? Dunno.

Beasted 35 yr old Partner looking 49 25 September 20 09:53

Sorry RoF but this is a non-story. Firms like those you have spotlighted are way too professional to be covidiotic and force anyone to work contrary to government guidance. 

Anonymous 25 September 20 10:11

Honestly, none of my clients could give a flying flamingo whether I advise them from home or the orifice. It totally makes sense to go in when you need to, but not otherwise. Whilst I am not sure going the "full Keystone" is right either, everyone hates the commute - so why bother?

BTW - beastings happen everywhere. Never worth it to sacrifice your wellbeing to get a promotion. 

Anon 25 September 20 10:12

WFW was open about its expectations. "As an international business, a number of client matters are being dealt with which need to be supported by a cross-section of our staff working in the office", it said in a statement.  "This includes lawyers and business operations, as well as some PAs".

What a load of sh1t. That has to be the poorest reason ever.

If any of the firm’s staff who are forced back in get Covid and die then I would expect that the firm would be on the thick end of a lawsuit from the deceased’s dependents. Time to check the Employer’s Liability Policy wording WFW (Same applies to other firms playing the same stupid game).

Anon 25 September 20 10:22

Overall, I’m not sure I see the issue. The marketing team at Fieldfisher sounds fairly odd, but it sounds as though the firms have decided they need some limited secretarial and IT functions in-office. in the examples given, it’s 1/4 or 1/5th of the time. 
 

That sounds... not unreasonable? For example, certain IT tasks need performing in-office. Aside from routine stuff where you need to be directly connected to the IT framework, certain legal matters - eg large-scale trials - work more smoothly where lawyers and witnesses can be in one room, safely spaced, and IT support is on hand to assist with tech issues. 
 

The risk to people of working age is already v low, and you’re being asked to commute to what will be a low-risk workplace a quarter of the time. It’s not exactly the same as working a customer-facing role in a supermarket or on the trains, or am I missing something?

BAU 25 September 20 10:22

All good at Slater and Gordon we are all sat at home with no direction so pretty similar to being in the office with no direction!

Anon 25 September 20 10:33

My firm is saying one thing officially and telling the partners another thing behind the scenes (be in the office so your teams will follow). Seems to be undermining the government's message and undermining the health and wellbeing of the wider community. 

Anon 25 September 20 10:40

Of course there are some parts of support roles which cannot be done from home. Of course I am sure none of the people who are too scared to get on an empty train to sit in a near empty office are the same people who were happy to head into London to make the most of the eat out subsidies, get their hair done or go on a summer holiday??

Anon 25 September 20 10:45

If the majority of firms can work from home then there is no good reason why these particular firms should insist on the contrary, unless they have such rubbish IT or systems that they have to.   If anyone gets ill or worse and people have been made to come in despite breaching government guidelines there will be hell to pay.  
 

How many partners are coming in?  Or is it do what I say not what I preach? 

A Brighter Future 25 September 20 11:17

Deadbeat dinosaur firms trying to stick in the Dickens era managed by untrusting (and untrustworthy) management and partners.

Smart firms dumping expensive offices and utilising smaller office space as staff can work efficiently, effectively, flexibly and profitably from home. Happier staff and more profitability.

Anonymous 25 September 20 11:19

@10:46

I always find it a bit ridiculous when people quote a figure like that. Surely its fair that some people may be nervous if they have a 1% chance of dying?

Also, I think its quite easy to forget that you're highly likely to be fine if you're fit, young and healthy but if you're not... Lets just not forget that there are many people in this society that we shouldn't forget about.

Anonymous 25 September 20 11:31

It's not just city firms doing it but high street too. Requirement is to be in the office for 5 days. No discussion of the new guidance, no discussion as to whether work can be done from home. All client contact is on the phone or email, all documents completed on computer, and sent online/via email. The only reason to be in the office is control, and threats of disciplinary if you question why they are forcing us in.

 

There is no reason for me to get dressed to do my job. I could do exactly the same work at home with my sweaty balls cooling directly on the leather sofa. Can't do that in the office. Well, I could but I think it's frowned upon

Anonymous 25 September 20 11:34

@ Gerry Atric - that is such a white supremacist attitude to Covid-19.

 

The survival rate amongst BAME patients is far lower. By forcing them into the office you are essentially supporting an ethnic cleansing campaign. 

Anon 25 September 20 11:43

Its not about the safety of the office itself, its about the safety of the commute (and whether lawyers who can WFH should be cluttering the tube when nurses/teachers have no choice). 

Partners who are wealthy enough/of the generation before house prices went insane completely miss this. 

A 30 min walk in from yr own house in Islington is rather different from an 1.15 with 2 tube changes on the northern line from a house share/or living with yr more elderly parents (in the case of really quite a few trainees!).

To the younger generation this reluctance to see WFH as efficient seems completely absurd when it save so much time and energy in a day.  Yes team bonding is important - but the occasional afternoon event serves that better than simply forcing people to make coffee at the same kettle every morning.

Anon 25 September 20 11:44

My magic circle firm thinks that being in together is good for the culture. I can see merit in that argument if in fact we had a good culture. But actually I prefer to be away from the toxicity of the partners and just get my work done at home.  

Anon 25 September 20 12:06

“Worth remembering that the survival rate for this disease is 99%”

Moronic comment of the day.  
 

The survival rate is not 99% amongst those over 75 and/or who are infirm, not amongst the 40,000 dead already.  Going to the office and using public transport means that the risk of catching it and passing on to a vulnerable person is much higher. And in any event have we really come to a position where it’s only death that should be the relevant factor?  What about getting seriously ill?  Do you not listen to the scientific facts?  Do you think this lockdown / further restrictions are all for fun?

 

 

Anon 25 September 20 12:11

“My magic circle firm thinks that being in together is good for the culture”

translated:

“My magic circle firm thinks that being in together is good for ensuring we can all still be beasted regularly by partners who need to do this to keep their sense of control and ego and who don’t trust us to work effectively from home”

Anonymous 25 September 20 12:17

There are partners at my firm who are coming in every day and sitting around apparently doing sweet FA. I’ve heard that they’ve been told to come in and lead by example and to coerce the proles into getting back to their desks ... none of it in writing of course. Allegedly!

WFW PA 25 September 20 12:18

Dear WFW, why are you pretending it's voluntary?  It's not.  PAs were essentially threatened with losing their jobs unless they went in.  That is not voluntary.  Of course you aren't going to force people actually shielding, you're not stupid.

Anon 25 September 20 12:20

If someone said you you “you’ve got to use crowded public transport and risk five days a week catching a highly infectious disease that will kill 1 in every 100 people who get it, and more if you’re elderly or infirm and if you don’t die or pass it on to someone who dies you may well get a really a nasty dose of flu for several weeks” - it’s not exactly that An attractive an offer is it?  

PA 25 September 20 12:27

It's amazing how I have been able to do my job 100% effectively from home since March, with literally no problem at all.  Closings are now virtual.  As long as the internet works and the firm has good enough tech, good PAs can do their jobs from home.  The lawyers I work with have no plans to go into the office, so why should I be expected to, just in case someone might require me to press a print button (a job which you are overpaying me for if that's what you really want)?

Anonymous 25 September 20 12:31

Anon 25 September 20 10:40 - actually, no I haven't done any of those things.  However, I also know that firm employs people to do those jobs you mention for whom that is their only job.  Clue: their job titles don't include the term 'PA'.

Anonymous 25 September 20 12:53

"They are concerned that management is tilting too far towards business needs." Yes, that's their job and this is your job. Give me strength. 

Coronavirus 25 September 20 13:13

"risk" of coronavirus is my a**. The chinese virus has a death rate of 0,001%. Only tramp lawyers in these s*** firms want be lazzy at home. That's why they will never be top-tier lawyers and law firms.

ConVirus 25 September 20 13:28

'they are risking our lives'

Get a grip. Probably just want to be furloughed (not surprised given the packages offered by our far left government)

Anonymous 25 September 20 13:43

It doesn't make much sense even after COVID. Sure, a nice office is cool and helps when meeting clients and for team bonding etc but it's also a massive cost on employers. Surely the future is part office, part remote? 

Gotta be Partners doing dick swinging in zoom meetings and getting uppity about being unable to try and bone their trainees. 

Anonymous 25 September 20 13:52

@11:34 I'm genuinely concerned now that every single week I'm seeing references to "white supremacists".

You're BAME, we get it. I'm BAME too but my life really hasn't been that much harder.

Who on earth is repeatedly posting blatantly racist comments every week? ROF really should ban the IP address.

Anonymous 25 September 20 13:55

@13:13 did you read the article?  The lawyers weren't the ones complaining

N dubz 25 September 20 14:03

You lot need to get a grip. Just stay at home. Their not going to drive round to your house and drag you in. They also can’t fire you for doing what BOJO says or it will be a PR nightmare. Be brave 

Anonymous 25 September 20 14:28

Fieldfisher example sounds like one individual manager or head of function going off piste and pressuring their team rather than a firm issue.

Anonymous 25 September 20 14:55

@13:52 I'd go further. ROF should ban all content that isn't explicitly anti-racist. 

Anyone who isn't actively engaged in dismantling the structural systems of imperialist colonial social control is tacitly endorsing racism, so they need to be shut down. 

There should be no place on these boards for comments like @12:18 which are passive in the face of the continued struggle against oppression of PoC's worldwide.

YearofthePig 25 September 20 15:09

Can’t help feeling that Business Services staff should look keen and enthusiastic.   If only 50% of them remain a year from now, I wouldn’t be wholly unsurprised.

Client of Anonymous 10:11 25 September 20 15:14

I don't mind where you give your advice from but if you are in the orifice, maybe turn off video on the Teams call?

Anonymous 25 September 20 15:58

Good luck to anyone BDing virtually. Great if you can. If you can't, get into the office for the good for your job.

Anonymous 25 September 20 16:15

I think you’ll find a lot more firms are the same, public message is we care for our employees, stay safe, work from home but behind closed doors employees are having their jobs directly threatened if they don’t go back to the office.  I definitely know of one large, well known city firm doing just that, not mentioned in this article.

Anon 25 September 20 17:14

My firm have been compelling all staff from support to partner back into the office full time since early August. I've felt bullied into this even though I can work fine from home. I've resisted and come in once or twice but they've been telling us they are following Government advice. Funnily enough, even after that advice changed  their policy has not.

Anonymous 25 September 20 18:44

CRS is a total sham! Whilst the higher ups in the firm may have released this statement which aligns with their statement internally, those lower down the chain are swinging their d****. There is email evidence where the team manager in IT has explicitly said ‘despite the managing partners email’ they are putting the IT team to go into the office on a rota because he has noticed that the last 6 months hasn’t worked well with all wfh. I mean really?? The office WAS SHUT for that time and every single person logged in on time and worked efficiently and effectively all day. This was written and sent in the comfort of his own home.  Disgusting behaviour. Just keep your employees happy and make them feel safe! 

Alberto Cova 25 September 20 20:28

As a client I don't care where the lawyer works as long as we hit the sweet spot on time, cost and quality. 

What I do care about is law firms imposing stupid hours targets and fees targets that encourage fee earners to pad a load of time on my file. We do notice, we don't like it and we're not impressed by the Partner's dying swan routine when this is identified and not paid.

Anonymous 25 September 20 20:52

If you think you will have a job on a law firm, at any level, in 6 months then please work at home. For the realists please go to work. No surprise the senior people are in and the junior people are not. Those juniors will still complain about job losses in 6 months! 

Anonymous 26 September 20 02:41

@20:52 haha thanks for the laughs! Clearly someone ‘senior’ miserable working at home, and full of old school ideals, thinking that you need to actually go to the office to work (when you can do the work effectively at home) and negatively thinking it’s only the juniors wanting to be at home. If you think seniors are in (apart from the odd stuffy old partners) you are totally delusional! I mean come on, is there a need for you to be in the office,  when your clients are not visiting offices and therefore you can have your meetings virtually? Know how to operate virtual teams?? 
 

Other industries have had a great balance of going into the office and working from home for years! Law firms are full of partners who they think are better than everyone else and don’t want to move ahead with the times! Grow the hell up! 

Anon 26 September 20 08:22

Silver circle firm I’m at said it was voluntary but staff in our team under no illusion that it was, given comments made by head of the team. Being in makes no improvement to my productivity or ability to network with my team as I can do all that online. Haven’t heard anything since BoJo changed the advice to WFH and will be really irate if they do the sneaky it’s voluntary (but it isn’t) thing again. I have a kid with mild asthma and a few health issues myself so ideally would prefer not to get the virus

Anonymous 26 September 20 08:36

@20.52 as a senior member in another firm, I firmly believe in lead by example. I wouldn’t ask anyone in my team to do anything that I wouldn’t do. 

I am not prepared to go in to risk catching in on my commute into work and passing it on to my family or friends. I am also able to work effectively at home without compromising the quality of my work.  I do not expect anyone in my teams to go in either, no matter what their job role is, and we are encouraging them to stay safe and feel comfortable and carry out their roles at home. We are taking this seriously, so why are other firms not??

Anon 26 September 20 13:11

Well said Anonymous 26 September 20 08:36.

Looking round the few senior partners in my firm who insist on going (official line is don't come in - unofficial and unwritten line is "come in or else ...") when they can easily work from home I've formed the view that they need to so it because they don't trust the staff and/or hate their families and/or feel inadequate unless they're in the office for 12 hours irrespective that they only bill 12 mins. 

Anonymous 26 September 20 14:47

Law firms are one of the few kinds of business that earnestly believe that the time honoured ways of doing things are self-evidently the best. 

 

Dismayed PA 27 September 20 06:19

 

WFW was open about its expectations. "As an international business, a number of client matters are being dealt with which need to be supported by a cross-section of our staff working in the office", it said in a statement.  "This includes lawyers and business operations, as well as some PAs".

I assume that the logic of having to be in the office doesn’t apply to the managing partner of WFW, a City Headquartered firm for three decades, who now runs the firm remotely from Asia when his management team and management functions are based in London. Presumably the Inevitable juicy expat deal and the lavish tax savings mean that he can afford state of the art comms systems to keep in touch with all his management team still based in London? Surely if he can work remotely and manage (sic) the firm from Asia then PAs and other staff in London can WFH in the Home Counties and minimise the risk to their health from travelling in on public transport?
 

law firms aren’t charities but this is really taking the piss.

Dismayed PA 27 September 20 06:28

And another thing ... if WFW (and other firms forcing people back against Government guidelines) are so keen on Agile working then why are they complaining that people aren’t in the office during a pandemic (to try to protect their health) but are perfectly happy for people to work at home on weekends and evenings or when they are on holiday?

Human 27 September 20 11:49

Spare a thought for the cleaners, security staff and other blue collar facilities types who have kept the 15AS functional while both the business support and solicitors peeps have largely been WFH.

tester 27 September 20 23:16

To make things worse rumour has it that the wfw office manager is about to outsource all of the business service staff (or what's left) that have been risking their life to attend the office since March. Do the firm really know what is going on, or just don't care?

Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson 27 September 20 23:40

I had it.

Didn't do me any harm.

Anybody wanna buy a bridge?

Anon 28 September 20 09:25

This looks like complaints from a disgruntled few. What about the positives of going into the office? For mental health working in a high-pressured job where the support of colleagues is a huge benefit. Or where you live alone or in a small flat sharing with 2 -3 others where there is no space to concentrate? Or to welcome new joiners or the new trainee intake who are looking at a screen wondering how they can make the most of their 2 year training contract in a virtual world.    

Anonymous 28 September 20 12:19

Yes good points. Firms also looking at this from another view - if you don't want to come into a city centre office, why should they pay city centre rates (which include bumps for commuting, extra costs etc). Maybe firms should offer two rates - 1 for home workers and 1 for those doing a hybrid approach.

Anonymous 28 September 20 12:57

It certainly is not a disgruntled few. It is endemic in the city. My silver circle firm is sending firm wide emails saying attendance is not compulsory but encouraged, yet all business services teams were (until the advice changed last week) being told verbally by their head of depts to come in for 2 or 3 days per week. If you say you are not comfortable coming in they then tell you that you need a GP letter and then a meeting with HR. This is blanket for all, even staff with age, ethnicity and underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk. Naturally everyone is terrified for their jobs so falling into line. No consideration for whether you have family that this also risks.

Anonymous 28 September 20 14:51

@9.25, 28 September 

Mental health is, of course, important and some may find that going in to the office helps cope with work pressures or the sense of work/life boundaries, especially if they have ‘push’ factors like what you describe. 

That said, similar consideration has to be granted to people who do not wish to come in to the office, particularly during a pandemic. 

The training issue is a genuine one which I think lots of firms are still trying to work out. 

Anon 28 September 20 17:31

@Anon 0925 - what about the Partners who have no credible work and clients but turn up everyday to hide from their families and drag their sorry arses around the City for coffees with fellow no-hopers?

 

Anonymous 29 September 20 06:12

Come on ROF, get a conduct league table up and running which highlights those firms that care for their employees and are following Government guidelines (publicly and internally) and those firms that don’t give a fig for their employees and are disregarding government guidelines (publicly or in a snide underhand passive aggressive manner). Us future lawyers (students and trainees) want to know what firms are really like.

Anon 29 September 20 06:44

As current gov guidelines stipulate that people should work from home if possible then firms should be adhering to these guidelines. It’s as simple as that.

i have been working at home very effectively all through lockdown (I’ve been busy and very productive) but I could go in to the office quite easily but I see no reason why I should potentially put myself or others at risk just to placate my firm’s management and partners untrusting attitude towards its employees.

i and others are closely watching the messaging that’s coming out from management and partners and I can tell you now that they aren’t building up trust and confidence with the staff.

 

Anonymous 29 September 20 09:15

@06.44am re trust and confidence - very, very true. Business services have and will always be regarded as dispensible and not 'talent'. Regardless, we all have a psychological contract with our employers which they are doing a text book job of obliterating right now with the verbal / passive aggressive bullying that is counter to the firm wide friendly tosh sent by the Senior Partner.  Any decent qualified HR person can see the potch they are all making of this yet we are not listened to because partners are also HR experts (HR qualifications are of course part of their history degree at Oxford) so why listen .... and HR are as scared as everyone else of getting the chop so there is little speaking up.

Once the economy settles back down, the recruitment costs for business services will go up when the inevitable exodus begins. Never before have I heard so many upset staff in so many different business services teams saying they would sacrifice the higher wages of law firms to work elsewhere - somewhere modern that provides ample WFH and more respect for their skills. Rich pickings for other professional services sectors if they are wise enough to differentiate on this point.

Sad times. And oh so avoidable.

Anonymous 29 September 20 10:08

I'd be interested to know if anyone saying that firms are 'risking their lives' are still going to pubs, restaurants etc. Fair play if they are shielding 24/7 but in some circumstances this can come across as using an easy excuse not to have to go to work.

Anonymous 29 September 20 10:13

Anon 28 September 20 09:25.  I live alone and flipping love it.  Just saying.  I have no desire to ever work in an office ever again if I can help it.  Mind you, I felt like that long before COVID arrived on the scene...  Also it's a non-point.  At most firms people who wished to for whatever reason have been perfectly welcome to work from the office, if they wished to, except during actual lockdown.  Literally nothing is stopping them as long as they abide by whatever rules that firm / premises has in place.

I actually have no issue with firms requiring people to work from the office for business need.  I do have issue with them pretending it's voluntary.  It's often the poorest paid members of staff who are put into these positions as well, no one who does an office job does it because they are willing to put their lives on the line, but that is potentially what could happen.

Also, side point.  Some of you people have no clue what modern PAs actually do, and the pearl clutching at it being possible to be a profitable law firm whose staff works (exceptionally well) largely remotely is hilarious.  If you think this isn't the way the world is going and that it's actually preferable, then you might need to consider getting your head out of the dark ages as otherwise you might find your law firm is left there whilst its competitors that prove adaptable profit at your expense.

Anon 29 September 20 12:08

@29 September 20 10:08

 

Its a fair point. Obvs can't speak for everyone but I haven't been in a pub since lockdown began (or on Public transport for that matter). I have been in a local restaurant twice in the last 2 months - once for my husband's birthday and once for mine.

What is interesting is that a fair few partners at my firm couldn't wait to get back into the City to start BD-whoring around in various City eateries and caffs although I'm not yet aware of any instructions that have came from those meetings. 

Anon 29 September 20 14:10

“Business services have and will always be regarded as dispensible and not 'talent”

Not in Risk and Compliance / GC team.  They are ring-fenced and it’s a huge growth area.  Salaries are strong.  

Anon 29 September 20 15:20

@ Anon 0925 28 September

One gets the sense that you like playing the "mental health" card to anyone who listens, to give the impression that you really care.  

The reality probably is that you are a very insecure [email protected] who has very little work whilst your peers are winning client work and getting on with it whilst they WFH. 

 

Anon 30 September 20 11:01

@29 September 20 14:10

The way some of these firms have behaved/are behaving I wouldn't be surprised if the Risk and Compliance/GC group are flat out with their hands full dealing with all manner of conduct.

Anonymous 30 September 20 12:28

@11:01 Absolutely correct. I'll bet that GC/Compliance teams are flat out dealing with discrimination claims from BAME and PoC+ staff who have been unfairly treated throughout the course of a global pandemic in which they were the principle victims. The structural inequalities baked in to all UK law firms have seen diverse members of staff crushed by this discriminatory virus while their white colleagues have been allowed to thrive in a privileged WFH environment.

Suspect that quite a lot of firms will be paying out multi-million pound claims, especially those that are so unequal as to have no BAME employees at all.

Anonymous 01 October 20 16:18

I'm not sure that the Eastern European airline flight attendant look is discreet and sexy.

Can't have the cake and eat it. 01 October 20 22:34

Anyone complaining of never wanting to go back to the office, express or implied threats to come back and the health implications of doing so, I'll say this:

If you've been jetting off on holiday during this pandemic, playing loose and fast with lockdown rules or have generally assumed the risk of catching the virus, you have not got much of a leg to stand on.  You can't just decide, having quite happily assumed these risks when it benefits you, not to go into the office.

There probably is something to say on productivity, but I think it does need to take into account what the cost of that productivity is.  I think it's quite easy to zone out everyone else WFH, that also means it can be difficult to get quick responses, which just offsets your productivity on that of others.  WFH can be productive, but it requires a collective ethos of what is expected of others and what is expected of you.  Where day to day management of a firm is a bit more laissez-faire, this does seem to get overlooked. 

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