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    Post-lockdown predictions: Experts discuss how enforced WFH will change workplace culture forever

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    Having recently been forced to adopt working from home measures, many businesses are finding that operations are more functional than expected. With attitudes seemingly changing towards remote working, employees are left questioning how the lockdown will affect their future routine.

    Leading experts in the legal sector have weighed in on the issue and shared their hopes and predictions about how forced WFH will affect future policies.

    The five professionals in the legal industry range from a HR Director and Head of Operations to a Digital Developer. All of the employees are based in the North West and work for Patient Claim Line – one of many British businesses who are practising remote working proceedings for the first time.

    Law is typically viewed as a rigid, formal and sometimes impersonal industry, so the legal experts have shared their experience of how working from home has challenged these stereotypes.

    For many of the interviewees, the belief that the lockdown will change remote working policies for the better was prevalent.

    Gillian Carlisle-Collett, Head of Operations, commented: “I think the genie is out of the bottle and we will not be going back to the way it was. People will have realised, for the most part, that generally teams can be more productive when working from home. Employees will hopefully have embraced the improved work life balance. Cultures and presenteeism have changed overnight for the better.”

    Senior Solicitor/Team Leader Kathryn Sharkey hailed the benefits of working from home and would urge management across the UK to offer employees remote working: “I think people will be able to be trusted more if they show they are hardworking. I think people will benefit from more freedom and a better work/life balance if homeworking allowance is extended to other staff members. If it works, it will be a significant positive change for the UK workforce, but we have to all work hard and all remember that we really are all in this together.”

    Digital Developer Mark Prime suggested that WFH is beneficial for employee satisfaction, and predicts that it will be integrated into the working week more significantly: “I think that remote working will become a new default work location where applicable, with more companies providing this option in some format – even if it’s just once or twice a week. On the flip side, I believe that employees will increasingly begin to request remote working as part of their contract.

    “The enforced working from home conditions have provided us all with a great opportunity to ask important questions around what makes a happier and more productive employee, and by extensions a happier person in general.”

    From a legal standpoint, Head of Serious Injury Unit Jen Nolan hopes that the courts will change for the better after the pandemic: “I think the courts will be forced to modernise and embrace technology which will benefit us as a business and our customers when this is over.”

    Weighing in on the comments, Patient Claim Line’s Director of People Tim Scott stated: “Before the lockdown, we were already seeing higher demand for flexible working from candidates in the recruitment marketplace. I think that is likely to increase after the lockdown, especially in companies where it has been demonstrated it can be done successfully.”

    Scott also expressed his hopes that the lockdown will shut down outdated managerial views surrounding working from home: “I would like to think that this period of enforced home working will have answered some of the common criticisms that arise from more traditional managers, who feel that they “can’t manage what they can’t see”. I suspect that this will depend in some part on how long the lockdown remains in place: if it is relatively short, it will be easier to go back to the ‘old’ ways.”

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    Lisa Carter

    All stories by: Lisa Carter