It’s no secret that many people feel the current job market is a workers’ market. A happier worker usually indicates a more productive worker willing to remain with a company for a longer term, but in 2022, what makes a happy worker? From previous polls performed by Legal Tech Talent Network, we know that allowing workers the flexibility to complete their job duties remotely on a regular, or at least infrequent, basis is critical. But more than a few managers would be surprised to learn that seemingly inconsequential parts of the job (like lugging around a remote office set-up or giving out personal contact information) can also be unnecessary nuisances for their employees.
Remote network and email access for extenuating circumstances
As a business owner, I have the unique privilege of being both boss and employee, which means it’s not often a challenge to convince “the boss” to invest in company infrastructure, like equipment for both a home office and an office-office.
But as anyone who spends a significant amount of time working in two locations knows, having a permanent set-up in both places can be a huge benefit. It reduces the inconvenience of lugging a heavy laptop around, the possibility of leaving behind an essential piece of equipment, and lessens the risk of causing a security breach. In addition, having the best equipment for the job, such as a full-size keyboard and proper mouse, will also improve productivity at both locations.
I recognize the value that a dual set-up has brought to my own work product, and now I’m wondering: how easy do employers make it for their team to work from home? And conversely, how easily can workers leave their work at the office? We have some insight from recent conversations with job seekers and the results of a couple of polls.
Poll 1 Question:
Non-Remote Legal Tech Pros: on [the] occasional days you work from home, do you use your own device or a company computer?
Poll 1 Results:
75% Bring office computer to house
0% Use my own personal computer
25% I have an extra company laptop
While the number of responses we received was limited, the data we gleaned from these answers would indicate that most people need to bring their company-issued laptops home to work from home.
Since no one reported use of a personal computer when working from home, it seems fair to assume that the 75% of respondents who commute with their equipment do so either because their employers don’t permit the use of personal devices for work-related tasks or because the workers themselves want to avoid the possibility of having their personal devices included as evidence in the event of a litigation hold or actual litigation.
We know some companies will assign extra laptops for workers to use remotely when work is required outside of regular office hours and/or while traveling, which likely makes it easier for these workers to shift their plans when circumstances arise causing an unexpected need to log on remotely.
Keeping in mind our hypothesis that seemingly inconsequential circumstances can add up to become unnecessary nuisances for employees, resulting in their early departure from a role, could it actually be more cost effective for organizations to assign secondary work set-ups for their employees? Obviously, a shift to dual set-ups for employees would incur costs, but are those costs more significant than the cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training a new employee because the last one resigned after another company offered a more favorable work-life balance?
Think of the benefit a secondary workstation could bring your team: no more need to take the entire day off because of a flat tire, sick kid, or urgent home repair. No driving through sleet and snow to pick up a laptop from the office because unexpected severe weather forced staff to stay home for multiple days. And of course, these same benefits to your team’s work-life balance also benefit the company by reducing the number of person-hours lost unnecessarily. This is just one example of a simple change employers can implement to keep workers happy and retain them for longer.
Managing business calls outside work hours
After-hours contact is a concern of employees and job seekers alike. The issue of being contacted outside of regular office hours is frequently addressed in our discussions with job seekers who are vetting a possible employer’s corporate culture and management styles.
Personally, over the last several years, I’ve focused more on keeping work within work hours and reserving evenings and weekends for myself. Toward this end, I have all but stopped providing my personal phone number to clients or candidates.
I was curious to find out how workers feel about sharing their personal cell numbers, so we conducted a second poll. The results are below, plus some compelling information that professionals shared in the comments of our LinkedIn poll:
Poll 2 Question:
As so many strive for that healthy work/life balance, we are wondering how many people are giving out their personal mobile numbers these days. And how many are keeping that private and giving out only their “office” number (home office line or office desk phone): Do you give your personal cell phone number to clients outside of your organization?
Poll 2 Responses:
57% Yes (It’s my only number)
36% To some (Most get office #)
7% NO WAY! No calls after hours!
While slightly over half of respondents still give out their personal cell numbers these days, we learned that many didn’t have another option, as their employers have never provided them with an alternative. In the poll’s comments, we learned that some people use VoIP applications on their phones and/or computers to send and receive calls and text messages during the day, which they can easily disable outside work hours. One person commented that she has two separate cell phones: one personal and another for work. Another respondent said he uses Google Voice to avoid sharing his private number and can turn it off outside work hours.
It’s evident that the technology exists to provide workers with a modicum of privacy and separation of personal and work life. In addition, many of these applications are available at no, or a nominal, expense. Implementing communication technology like Google Voice can also benefit the organization, enhancing its record-keeping ability by allowing IT departments to maintain phone records with a built-in eDiscovery solution. Further still, this infrastructure ensures that when a former worker is replaced, the organization can transfer their work number to the new team member. This provides clients with a better customer experience through enhanced continuity and ensures they don’t call former employees for help.
In 2022, the way we complete our work can look different every day. And when organizations address this reality with thoughtful solutions for their employees, everyone wins. Workers gain a greater work-life balance, companies retain happy employees, and information security and customer service receive a bolster in the process.
David A. Netzer
President, Legal Tech Talent Network