A two-way conversation

Monday, 06 June 2022
Paula Myers describes how clear communication and empathy are key to making a smooth transition to hybrid working post-pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed many of us to adapt to new ways of working that have long been the ‘norm’ in other sectors. It has shone a spotlight on traditional working practices in the legal sector; most lawyers are now far less restricted in where and when they work, as long as the needs of the business and clients are met.

This momentous shift has left businesses wrestling with whether to go back to the old ways of working or to adapt and trust their staff to work more flexibly. However, how do you ensure that your clients’ needs are met and that providing an excellent client experience remains at the forefront of what you do, however you choose to work? Further, how do you guarantee you have the capabilities and technology to meet client needs in an increasingly digital world, while also considering the supervision and wellbeing of your staff?

We all strive to understand and meet our clients’ needs, but how often do we check in with clients to make sure that they are happy? This has become a particularly important consideration, as flexible working may mean that we work outside normal business hours. We have found that asking our clients for feedback at specific and regular points helps to build loyalty and trust and gives clients a direct channel to influence decision making.

If you are asking clients to rate your service, you must be prepared to reflect on what they say, particularly if they highlight areas where you could improve.

It is also important to actively embrace teamworking so that, if you are unavailable, the client can contact someone else who understands the issue and can respond quickly. It can be helpful to work with other teams to anticipate or mitigate future issues, including potentially contentious matters.

However, it is not just about nurturing clients: staff also need to be supported. Working flexibly can make it more difficult for other members of the team to obtain the experience they need to progress and feel supported. The last couple of years have had a huge impact on many people’s mental health; work/life boundaries have become more blurred, and some people have become isolated and lonely. It is important that all staff have the support they need and know how to access it.

Having ‘anchor days’, when all staff attend the office, is a good way of re-establishing relationships and sharing expertise, particularly for those who started working during the pandemic and may never have met colleagues face-to-face.

Most of us will have been on the receiving end of having a ‘conversation’ with someone who does not appear to be interested in what you’re saying. Listening is a critical skill practitioners have to master, because if we do not listen to our clients and colleagues, we will not recognise how we can improve and deliver a better service.

EPP update

STEP’s Employer Partnership Programme (EPP) is pleased to welcome HFMC Wealth as an Employer Partner (EP) and Ogier as a Platinum EP. The EPP also congratulates the following organisations on their re-accreditations: BDO UK (Platinum EP), Brodies (Gold EP) and Pavilion Row (EP).

To learn more about the EPP and how you can become an EP, please contact STEP’s EPP team at [email protected].

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Paula Myers

Paula Myers TEP is a Partner at Irwin Mitchell (Platinum Employer Partner).

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