Many individuals in the legal industry are working from home to promote social distancing and keep everyone safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Although inexplicably some law firms They reopened their offices very soonMost managers realize that employees can complete almost all of their work tasks from home rather than going to the office. Several partners have lamented in recent months that having employees working from home has reduced productivity and hurt the profits of many stores. In order to boost worker productivity, and give employees the support they need, more law firms should be open to the idea of purchasing work items from home such as furniture, computer screens, and other equipment for employees.
There is nothing new about employers purchasing work items from home for employees. Most law firms provide their employees with laptops that they can use to complete work assignments from almost anywhere. Additionally, some employers are taking their commitment to virtual work a little further and are open to purchasing computer screens, furniture, and other items needed to work effectively from home.
About five years ago, my brother worked for a financial company that allowed employees to work from home once a week. The business owner bought computer monitors for my brother so that he could see the spreadsheets and other financial documents he needed to review more easily in order to successfully complete his job. The investment required to equip my brother with screens and other items needed to be more productive than working from home only cost several hundred dollars, but that investment likely paid dividends in the output my brother was able to provide for the employer and their clients.
There is no reason why more law firms should not make a similar investment in work from home items, which would enable employees to be more productive while working from home. Law firms actually pay their employees to attend conferences, comply with CLE rules, attend business development outings, and other professional development expenses. The hundreds of dollars that it would take for each employee to work from home would be just a drop in the bucket compared to all of these other costs.
In some cases, employees can really use the equipment that companies buy in order to be productive at home. Many workers across the country make do with whatever arrangement they have at home to get the work done. Many people work from the sofa, and I’ve seen quite a few attorneys I know set up card tables and folding chairs in order to create makeshift home offices. These arrangements are not perfect, as they do not provide workers with the best opportunity for writing and efficiency in their tasks. Additionally, I am not an expert, but sitting in a folding chair or other arrangement can hurt your back and potentially cause health problems.
Employers may argue that it is up to the employees to create a suitable home office so that they are productive in their jobs and can always come to the office if they cannot work from home. However, some people just don’t have the funds to properly set up a home office. It can cost hundreds of dollars or more to equip a home office depending on what equipment a worker already has at home and what he or she may need to complete their work effectively. Many people face a difficult time during these difficult times and it can be difficult for some workers to pay for their work items from home themselves. Additionally, because there is less job security than there has been in recent years, workers may not feel comfortable spending money outfitting a home office that would be useless if they lost a job. Employers must advance here by providing employees with the support they need to succeed in virtual work. Saying that employees can come into the office if they are not productive at home is not an excuse because health concerns and social distancing make this impractical in most situations.
Some employers may argue that it is difficult for them to purchase all this equipment for workers. In fact, employers may think that it is difficult to return such equipment after the employee leaves the company and has processed all requests for work-from-home materials that are being paid by a law firm. However, the amount of money needed to outfit most home offices is relatively small, and if law firms are too concerned about the practicalities, they can only allow workers to keep things when they leave the company. In fact, I’ve heard of employers doing this in the past, because some employers don’t care about getting back several hundred dollars of work-from-home items that they might have paid an employee. Perhaps employers could decorate any home work equipment in the name of their company as they would with other vouchers even if the employee keeps the items, the company gets free ads!
Finally, partners should not regret the decline in productivity during a pandemic unless they do whatever it takes to support the virtual work of their employees. Paying for work from home items can help employees be more productive and help workers when they can actually use the support. Although some practical matters need to be resolved, this should not prevent more companies from paying for the work-from-home items needed to boost the productivity of virtual workers.
Jordan Rothman is a partner Rothman Law Firm, A full-service law firm in New York and New Jersey. He is also a founder Student Debt Diary, Which is a website that discusses how to pay off student loans. You can reach Jordan via email at email@example.com.