Updates on Working Virtually (March 2007)
I regularly write about the advantages – and challenges – of working virtually. Several recent items are good reading for anyone interested in this concept.
1. Reasons to Hold Out Hope For Balancing Work and Home in the Wall Street Journal (1/11/07) reports that “What’s hot is informal flexibility that allows employees to alter their hours or to work at home on a more casual basis” and “More employers are bowing to workers’ desire to live and work where they want.”
2. Michael Dillon, the general counsel of Sun and a blogger, has a great post on why he gave up his office (1/15/06). Mr. Dillon works only virtually; he has no permanent office. His reasons: becoming a better manager, keeping less stuff, and work-life balance.
3. Blogger Adam Smith, Esq. offers an excellent analysis of the face-to-face versus virtual working together in 200,000 SqFt; Hi Flr; Park Vu (1/30/07, commenting on why law firms pay $100/sq ft for space). He reviews and analyzes some of the literature on the economics of cities, particularly why businesses pay so much to be in cities. The bottom line is that cities facilitate face-to-face meetings. I relate to that idea: when in NYC, I often visit with 4 to 8 people in a day (know the subways – don’t even think of taxis!) I agree with this analysis but still believe, for reasons I articulate in The Future Law Office: Going Virtual, that law firms over-invest in downtown space. My guess is that an analysis of interactions among lawyers in downtown offices would show that face-to-face time is not optimized relative to the space occupied.
4. Business Week has a series of articles in its online edition (as featured in the 3/5/07 print edition) examining the pros, cons, and mechanics of working virtually. The Virtual Workplace includes several articles, including Working from Home: It’s in the Details.
5. And one idea. If you had to decide where to locate a satellite office for a downtown firm, it would be cool to create a Google map mash-up with all lawyers’ homes as points on the map. Then you could visualize clusters and select a location(s) that maximizes convenience. (One could make partner and associate map dots different colors, but that’s another story.)
Update (3/10/07): According to White & Case assistants to choose their hours in Legal Week (3/8/07), two London firms are moving towards working virtually.
Update (3/22/07): SJ Berwin becomes latest City firm to tackle flexible working conundrum in Legal Week (3/22/07).
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