Yesterday I read this article by Melanie Jester from Oklahoma Bar Journal Articles. It discusses work-life balance for lawyers. And then later yesterday I took my boys to the park and ran into a very nice lady, who it turns out is a lawyer on maternity leave and we discussed the topic of lawfirms and trying to have a career and a family.
I think balance is an elusive but achievable goal – it just takes having an open mind to doing things a different way. This is the part lawfirms struggle with I think – there is often a tendency to do things as they have always been done, since it has worked for so long. But there is a long list of ways to give your employees some flexibility while still achieving the firm’s goals and providing results for the client:
- Telecommuting -easily a top choice for workers – it allows work from home or really anywhere. For example a parent home with a sick child can try and get some work done if allowed the opportunity to access work files from home.
- Part-time work – another great option for some people. Some staff want more time for hobbies, travel, family etc., but they don’t want to give up their career either. I think that as the population ages we’ll really see a demand for this, as people who’ve worked so hard on their careers are ready to loosen up a bit without letting go altogether.
- Alternative hours – people have different “peak” hours in the day. My husband is a total morning person, I am best midday and I have a friend who works best late at night. If we all work 9-5 the reality is that we won’t all be performing optimally. Workers who can adjust their hours even somewhat to work around their natural inclinations will work harder and will appreciate the trust placed in them to show up and do the job regardless of if the boss is in and working the same exact hours.
- Flex time – put in extra hours and get time off later, it’s a simple and easy solution and I’m surprised more lawfirms haven’t taken advantage of it. It saves money on overtime costs and allows staff an occasional extra day or even half-day off.
I think the most important thing to note about all the above options is not only that they will be a wonderful benefit to workers but that they all offer rewards for the employer. Win-win in my books!