Source of article 2's Company - Magnus Insights.
In this time of forced social distancing, with many people working remotely from home or on quarantine, I have been using some of my time to make calls or otherwise contact clients about outstanding proposals, etc. I always have a stack of people to call upon, so I’ve been reaching out. The results of these contacts have been enlightening on an issue I hadn’t considered. That is, how lawyers, and their staff, “manage” the impressions they create when working remotely. Melissa and I have, for a long time, worked remotely. Our “real” work always has a remote component when we are in the field doing mock trials, focus groups, etc. We have to be where the action is – the trial venue usually – so we are out and about. I also spend considerable time calling on people for meetings, lunches, etc. Yet, during these times, it is important to me to be accessible to clients and potential clients. For years, even before I worked as a trial consultant, I was self employed as a photographer. I carried a pager and was paged whenever someone left me a voice mail. I also had a car phone when that meant simplex radio communication, that is, walkie talkie style telephone service. I had to be able to communicate from wherever I was working. It didn’t matter where I was calling from, only that I called. Pay phones, calling cards, they were all a part of being available. Now it is much easier. Call my office phone extension. If I am there, I’ll answer, if I don’t answer, the call goes to my cell phone and the caller never knows, or needs to know, where I am when I answer the phone. That is transparency. If someone answers my phone in my absence, the call can be transferred to me, wherever I am. In fact, for several years, Melissa and I worked remotely, in a different city, 1/3 of our time. Callers were routed from the regular office number to our phones in the other city – without telling the caller. Email, in the days of smart phones and tablets, similarly makes us available, transparently. What I’ve found interesting in calling clients is that about 2/3 of the calls are being handled in less than transparent ways. The calls go to voice mail, or sometimes to a receptionist who tells me “Mr. or Ms. Attorney is not available, but I’ll send them a message.” In the interest of client service, it seems to me that law firms are behind the times in the transparency and fluency of communications. The stay at home rule is exposing this gap. Email responses have been faster than usual – they are working. My observation has to do with the need for businesses to find ways for everyone to be available as if they were sitting in their offices. Efficiency and client service suffer when this is not the case.