The Status Quo is No Longer – Return to Office for Law Firms is Posing Challenges 

Firms want staff in the office more days a week, staff want even more flexible hours. Is there a compromise? Can firms make productivity and efficiency gains they’re aiming for without compromising staff satisfaction or work delegation? 

When hybrid working was introduced not long ago, it brought with it better work life balance and higher staff satisfaction. Fast forward a few years and attitudes have shifted. With client demand for legal services decreasing, law firms are now looking to maximise productivity gains and improve visibility on task delegation. Firms are now strongly encouraging employees to return to the office. Although this shift is understandable, with firms increasing their focus on profitability, this insistence on an office-based model without task visibility may not be the best solution with decreased staff satisfaction and increased inefficiency in work allocation a strong reality.  

Hybrid work brings to light inefficient workflows 

For firms to make productivity gains and continue a hybrid working model, improvements to workflow visibility need to be made. Regardless of whether you are in an office or remote, without visibility on who is doing what, and if the right people are completing work, firms will find tasks are not being completed with the most cost-effective resources. Can firms afford for tasks to be completed by the wrong people and the extra work this creates for everyone else? 

From BigHand’s latest industry research report, we can see 23% of firms say lawyers are doing more work themselves rather than delegating. Burdening lawyers with administrative tasks meant for support staff leads to reduced time being spent on client focused work.   This is a serious concern as clients are wanting more transparency. Without accessible data or visibility on this, it will only make inefficiencies worse.   

Return to Office on the table 

If you’re a law firm who has found demand for your services has reduced, and impacted profitability, it’s easy to assume that returning to the office more frequently will positively affect productivity.  While this may seem like a strategic move and for the benefit of the firm, it raises serious questions on staff satisfaction and retention. The data shows A quarter of firms confirm that the hybrid policy for partners is four or more days a week in the office, while 31% of associates are expected to also be in the office four or more days a week. However, this increase in office-based days seems to be a clear contrast to staff expectations. The report confirms almost a third of staff would like to have more flexible working hours. Can firms confidently say these policies won’t affect attrition or staff satisfaction when they’re opposed to what many staff are wanting? I’ve spoken to a few firms that have supported this and have found that when recruiting new staff, hybrid working is a major priority for employees when evaluating their next positions. 


Staff satisfaction is integral to a positive working culture and firms should be aware on the war on talent that’s happening today in the legal market. Many associates and junior lawyers are looking to make lateral moves to other firms for better working conditions. Monetary incentives are not enough to keep staff happy and incentives like hybrid working, are well placed in the minds of lawyers and associates when deciding on their next move. Its clear questions arise over the impact on staff satisfaction of returning to the office more frequently.  

Striking a Middle Ground with improved workflow visibility  

Last week BigHand’s Global Head of Solutions Duska Frink spoke on the growth strategies firms need to better manage staff attrition. Similar solutions can be found in dealing with the challenges of flexible working where both the current hybrid working model and a full time return to the office are not sustainable solutions. For firms to continue working hybrid, the data from the report emphasises the urgent need for better visibility in task flow delegation to make data driven decisions.

With the right systems in place and Workflow Management technology, law firms can efficiently allocate tasks based on skill sets and availability, regardless of location, allowing for work to be completed by the right person at the right cost to the firm. This means regardless of whether support staff are in-office or remote, the correct task delegation is used for a more efficient process. The benefit of this is timely completion of tasks, increased staff morale, and vital improvements in client service delivery. It’s a win-win when firms can find efficiency improvements, they’re looking for without having to compromise staff satisfaction or their appeal to recruitment prospects.  


When 91% of law firms – and a further 96% of Support Managers - believe that better visibility of workloads would improve hybrid working, its vital firms address the challenges posed by the hybrid working environment effectively through task-flow delegation technology that provides real-time insights into workloads and adopts automated task management.  


Finding a New Status Quo in the Hybrid Working Era  

A firm’s bottom line will always be to improve client service delivery. It’s unlikely this will be achieved by returning to the office without decreasing staff satisfaction and increasing attrition rates. It’s evident in the data that the current practices firms are employing are leading to ineffective operational structures, heavily weighing on efficiency and employee satisfaction.  The findings indicates that law firms must embrace a new way of working to stay competitive and attract top talent. With Workflow Management Technology, firms are empowered with operational data to make improved strategic decisions, have increased visibility, and improved efficiency in task allocation. As mentioned by many of our clients, firms can transform staff collaboration and thrive in the face of economic and commercial pressures while meeting the expectations of both staff and clients.  

Access the full report to learn more on the importance of data and task flow visibility amidst calls for a return to the office.

Read Report Three
(Continued) Lack of Visibility Despite Mandated Return to the Office 

About BigHand Workflow Management

To provide the best client service while supporting your bottom line, it’s vital to ensure your teams are working efficiently and smartly. Ineffective and outdated methods of delegating tasks makes it easy for things to be overlooked, means your workforce isn’t properly optimised, your tasks aren’t being delivered on time, and your bottom line is suffering as a result. BigHand Workflow Management is a task management solution that lets you turn your tasks into fully auditable, digital workflow entries. You can create tasks from voice, email, electronic or paper-based requests – from document production requests to reprographics and travel bookings.

BigHand Workflow Management