"I can't wait for the City to open up properly again - I need more workplace injury claims."
Irwin Mitchell is the latest firm to permit its staff to decide where, when and how they work, once the lockdown has lifted.
The PI firm's 'Flexible by Choice' scheme will allow its 3,000 staff to decide whether to work remotely full-time, or in the office, or opt for a hybrid, "subject to their role and client work being completed effectively". All staff "already have laptops and are equipped for flexible working options which have worked well throughout the pandemic," said the firm.
“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic how much colleagues have embraced working from home and have appreciated being able to work flexibly around their lives," said Susana Berlevy, chief people officer at Irwin Mitchell. She said the firm anticipated that the majority of staff would split their time between the office and home, but expected "some people will wish to work from home full-time."
“It’s crucial that we trust our colleagues to make the best choice for themselves, the other colleagues in their teams and their clients in how they decide to work in future," added Berlevy.
With remote working becoming the norm for many Irwin Mitchell staff, their neighbours may wish to close their blinds when browsing the internet in incognito mode, to avoid being snitched on.
Irwin Mitchell follows DAC Beachcroft in giving staff the power to decide where they want to work. An uber-flexible model has been a success at Keystone Law, which was crowned RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021. Built on principles of remote working, keep-what-you-kill and work-when-you-like, Keystone's unorthodox structure appeared designed for a Covid-afflicted landscape.
In RollOnFriday's survey of over 2,500 staff in law firms, 44% of respondents said that in the long-term, they 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.
Meanwhile, at Slater and Gordon an insider told RollOnFriday that the firm has mysteriously "asked all staff to work from home if we can." The source concluded: "I'm going to be working from my kitchen table for life."
The firm has also taken a puzzling approach to promoting its offices, by "hiding" them on its website, said the source. Slater and Gordon used to list all its offices clearly on their pages, but visitors to the site now have to type in the url of an office manually, in order to reveal it. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.
With the shift towards remote working, Slater and Gordon was (unintentionally) ahead of the curve, as it was been closing offices for some time. Since 2017 the Golden Turd 2020 and 2021 winner has shuttered in Chester, Wrexham, Milton Keynes and Preston. In 2019 it shut in Leeds with the loss of 25 fee-earners, placed 100 staff at its Watford office at risk of redundancy, and made job cuts in Birmingham. And last year it closed its London office as part of a plan for staff to work from home on a permanent basis.