It’s an interesting and yet challenging time to be a trainee solicitor, given that the entire country has seemingly had to adapt to a new way of working, and a new way of living almost overnight.
I was fortunate that B P Collins recognised the need to improve and upgrade our technology long before COVID-19, which has made the transition to working from home really quite smooth.
“There were two major changes which helped enormously: i) a move towards flexible working, and ii) a move away from a reliance on paper.”
About a year ago, the firm replaced our desktop computers with laptops, introduced a clear-desk policy and encouraged us to work in different spaces or different departments. The firm also implemented a “paper lite” policy, challenging us to reduce our paper usage (for both environmental and efficiency reasons), to no longer rely on physical files and to send things by email where possible.
This meant when the Government advised against office working wherever possible, we were able to quickly adapt to working from home, with minimal disruption. I have access to my files at my kitchen table through our electronic document system, I can make calls through my laptop and chat to my colleagues on Microsoft Teams. Of course, there are always challenges and exceptions to the rule, but the last three and a half weeks have been as normal as they could be in the circumstances.
In terms of my work, thankfully, it’s more or less business as usual. In the Private Client team, the majority of my work is generated from client meetings. These meetings are now held on conference calls, or via video (which clients have been very amenable to) meaning my workload has been as consistent as if I were in the office.
In terms of socialising, while you can’t totally replicate the “water cooler” office chat, my team has a video call every morning, just to check in, and see how life is going.
“There’s a video call over lunch which people can join if they’re eating alone, and we also have a team WhatsApp group, which features a heavy dose of jokes, to keep us smiling.”
Both the firm-wide social and quarterly trainee social which were due to take place in the last couple of weeks were postponed. However, with Microsoft Teams, the trainees met virtually after work last Friday for drinks, and there’s also a firm-wide drinks scheduled on Zoom this coming Thursday. It’ll be interesting to see how it works with 100+ invitees, but I’m excited to try something different!
The most interesting thing for me will be to see if this period affects the way we work at B P Collins when normal service resumes. I suspect it will. There are clear benefits to flexible working, and this world-wide work-from-home experiment has demonstrated what the future of working might look like. Hopefully just with a little less distance between us all!
Posted by Chris Hatton
Chris joined B P Collins as a paralegal in the dispute resolution practice group in October 2017. He was promoted to Senior Paralegal in May 2018, and started his training contract in March 2019.