Since the onset of the pandemic, remote work environments have become the new norm for many law firms. (I am remotely working as I type this article!) Small law firms are no exception. If your firm has transitioned to remote work, you may be wondering how to manage your team effectively. Small law firms can often feel disadvantaged when managing a remote or hybrid team. After all, most of the resources and advice are geared toward larger businesses. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! I’ll discuss some tips for communication, morale, and mental health to help your small firm manage its remote and hybrid teams.
- Encourage Communication
One of the most important things to keep in mind when managing a remote or hybridized team is communication. Clear and concise communication is essential to keeping your team on track and ensuring everyone is on the same page. Here are a few ways to help you communicate effectively with your remote team:
- Schedule regular check-ins, either daily or weekly; this will allow you to connect with each team member and see how they are doing.
- Slack is a web-based tool that allows for real-time messaging and collaboration between team members. Small firms can use Slack for synchronous and asynchronous communication, essential for managing remote teams.
- Project management tools like Asana or ClickUp keep everyone organized, allow you to assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress.
- Video conferencing tools are handy. (One good outcome of the pandemic is the normalization of videoconferencing tools!) Unsurprisingly, a virtual face-to-face meeting is a great way to resolve a problem or reach a consensus.
- Boost Morale
In addition to effective communication, you also need to focus on your team members’ morale. When team members are feeling disengaged or unmotivated, it can lead to a decrease in productivity. So, how do you keep your team’s morale high when they’re not in the office? Here are a few ideas:
- Encourage social interaction outside of work hours through group chat platforms or online forums.
- Plan fun virtual events, like happy hours or trivia nights. We have done online painting at my firm and even a vision board party!
- Recognize and celebrate achievements, big and small. Most people love recognition, so celebrate birthdays, race completions, and work anniversaries.
- Promote Mental Health
Lastly, it’s essential to keep an eye on your team’s mental health. Remote work can be isolating, so ensuring everyone stays healthy is crucial. The influence of the pandemic on team well-being is evident: In a 2021 American Law Media survey of lawyers and staff, 70% of respondents said their mental health worsened during the pandemic. The most significant negative influence on workers’ mental health was isolation, with nearly 51% of those who took the survey saying they felt isolated. Additionally, lockdowns (15%), remote work (14%), and disruption of routine (12%) were other culprits that led to a decline in mental health.
Here are a few tips for encouraging your team:
- Encourage breaks and time off. Employees need to take time for themselves, whether taking a walk around the block or on vacation.
- Encourage honest communication. Remote workers should feel comfortable communicating with their managers about their feelings. You can do this through regular check-ins or an anonymous survey.
- Provide resources. There are many great resources for managing mental health, so consider sharing some with your team. You could also provide access to a confidential counseling service like Talkspace.
Remote work can come with many challenges, but it can also be advantageous. With creativity and planning, you can keep your team connected, healthy, and productive no matter where they are. I hope you successfully manage a remote or hybrid team at your small law firm by following these tips. Do you have any comments or tips for managing remote or hybrid teams? Please share them with me at email@example.com.
Iffy Ibekwe is the principal attorney of Ibekwe Law, PLLC. She believes that women deserve to make decisions that affect them with wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Activating women is Iffy’s calling, and she also loves speaking internationally about entrepreneurship, estate planning, motherhood, and supporting other women lawyers. Currently, Iffy is writing her first book on culturally competent estate planning, available in 2023 (prayers up!). A double-Longhorn, Iffy graduated from The University of Texas (undergrad and law) and has practiced law for over 15 years. Iffy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, her website, LinkedIn, and Instagram @iffyibekweesq.