On return, office hygiene will be enforced more rigorously 

Freshfields has announced a long-term WFH policy, allowing its employees to work remotely for up to 50% of their time, once the lockdown has lifted.  

The Magic Circle firm's policy will permit its staff in London and Manchester to work remotely for up to half of their time, subject to client and business commitments. 

The firm said the policy is an "interim approach", as team and client preferences "may evolve" once offices open.  

“Our guidance follows feedback from colleagues who signalled a clear preference for more flexibility but also recognises the importance of in-person interaction to our culture, personal development and client engagement,” said London office managing partner Claire Willis. 

Olivia Balson, director of the firm's 'global centre' in Manchester said: "We still see the office location for the Global Centre in Manchester as holding an important role in our connections, our collaboration, development and innovation." She added, "at the same time, we strongly believe in the value of a balance between remote and office-based working."  

The decision mirrors the desires of the legal profession in RollOnFriday's survey of over 2,500 staff in law firms - the biggest WFH survey of the sector. 44% of respondents said that in the long-term, they now only want to work in the office for just one or two days a week. Another 10% said they didn't want to go back to the office at all. Only 10% said their preference was to eventually return full-time.

The forced absence from the office has permanently broken many people's tether to the office. As one respondent to RollOnFriday's survey put it: "Offices seem so 20th century now". A follow-up survey by RollOnFriday revealed that over 50% of lawyers would swap firms if they couldn't work from home. 

Allen & Overy has also said it will provide a balance between homeworking and the office, after government restrictions are lifted. The Magic Circle firm anticipates that staff will be able to work from home, on average, for 40% of their time.

“Over the course of the last year we have proven the ability for most of us to work successfully from home, and we will continue to support our people to work flexibly on an ongoing basis," said an Allen & Overy spokesman. 

“As we move forward we believe that the office will remain incredibly important in terms of preserving our culture and community and in providing a space for personal development. We also realise that some people will need to be in the office more than others, but we expect that on average 60% of work will be done in our or other’s offices.”

Several firms have planned for staff to work remotely, post-lockdown. Linklaters was the first City firm to announce a long-term policy, permitting staff to work remotely for up to 50% of their time. Other firms that will also allow staff to work up to 50% of their time from home include Norton Rose Fulbright, Taylor Wessing and Squire Patton Boggs.

Herbert Smith Freehills, like A&O, will permit staff to work remotely for an average of 40% of the time.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 19 March 21 08:25

But how will all those hard-working landlords earn their money?

And the daily commute builds character.  It would be a shame not to have to do that anymore.

Anon 19 March 21 08:47

Isn’t that basically the same as it was pre covid?  Get home at 10pm, log on and work into the early hours and then work at home at weekends as well ?  

BST 19 March 21 09:26

"Subject to client and business commitments" is a pretty wide get out clause....

Most firms are going to go for hybrid, which is what I think most people want not 100% office nor 100% WFH, but suspect that most shops will probably rightly in terms of learning want trainees and NQ's/junior staff in the office most of the time and will be more flexible the more senior people are.  

Anon&O 19 March 21 10:22

Very strange, we @A&O haven't been told anything about a new WFH policy save for a round robin email from Wim ruminating on what he expects the home/office balance to be... 

Anon 19 March 21 10:45

Doesn’t this basically mean two days then three days in the office on a rolling weekly basis.  Can’t see any other way realistically  - unless people leave en masse at Wednesday lunchtime to go home, which seems unlikely.  

Anonymous 19 March 21 10:50


haha do you not realise that the "hand-working landlord" is your pension?

The value of pension funds is going to take a massive hit over the next year or so.

IT purchases coming .... 19 March 21 13:10

Predicting a spike in desktop purchases and landline phones by those firms that are reluctant to let WFH become the norm.

As mentioned above, we all know work stops when we leave the office, right? So nobody needs firm-sponsored laptops or mobiles, obvs ... 

Anon 19 March 21 14:03

Reality is that many people now have become used to working from home and firms will have to accept this change or face losing good people.  Simple as that.  There is no need to be in the office all the time - the last year has shown that - and there has been little impact.  Communications with clients were mainly by email and phone anyway before the pandemic.  The idea of solicitors beavering away in offices five days a week seems Dickensian now.  

bananaman 19 March 21 14:09

Unlikely the "hard working landlord" is your pension if you are still working for a law firm, as you will not be on a DB scheme where they have to match prospective liabilities to assets (gilts and RE) or drawing down your pension. Otherwise if they are your pension you've disregarded your pension investment strategy and will have lost 100%+ of what you could have earned investing it in pretty much anything else over the last 5 years. 

I hate the office. I hate WFH. I hate everything. 19 March 21 15:50

So A&O is basically 2 days per week from home and Freshfields is saying maybe 2, maybe 2.5, but definitely not 3 days per week from home?  How is this better?  After all, Freshfields is a firm that resisted hours targets for years but worked its people harder than most other firms. And where is Slaughters?  Probably busy converting One Bunhill Row into condominium live/work pods. 

Anon 19 March 21 19:28

The devil is in the detail.    50% can work from home subject to “client and business” factors.   In a client orientated business, what doesn’t fall within scope of this get out?  

Mr Coffee 20 March 21 12:43

@anon 10.50.

Yes, pity the poor landlords.  But this is the creative destruction of capitalism.  Bright sparks might take a punt on local high streets being reinvigorated as those WFH can get their coffee or lunch from round the corner, or buy their meat from the local butcher of they can get out for 20 mins at 3pm, rather than the supermarket because that's the only thing open when they're heading home of an evening.

David smith 25 March 21 08:30

What about all those sub contracted staff say cleaners , porters , It , chefs etc 

they can’t work from home 

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