The weather outside is frightful. Even in locations where it is is typically delightful.
This season, just about every US location is getting pummeled with snow, ice and other severe weather conditions. Yesterday, law firms in DC, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Boston, Maine, and New England were closed. While a “snow day” might sound like fun, it can be very stressful for individuals who are forced to “work from home” without have access to the proper infrastructure that allows them to tend to important matters.
The 2014 North American cold wave is an extreme weather event affecting parts of Canada and the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, extending as far south as Central Florida, and Northeastern Mexico. Temperatures fell to unprecedented levels due to the front, and consequently low temperature records were broken across the U.S., leading to business, school, and road closures, as well as mass flight cancellations. Areas that are not typically affected by this kind of weather have been faced with conditions that they are not equipped to deal with - and that’s not just on the roads. It’s in the office too.
Business weather forecaster Planalytics estimates that the U.S. economy took a roughly $5 billion hit because of the frigid weather stemming from lost productivity, higher heating bills and a drop in consumer spending. The cost of flight cancellations is expected to reach $1.4 billion. However, if you consider that available technology can allow workers in many industries - legal is one of them - to remain productive regardless of where they are working from, at least part of this loss is unnecessary.
When the directive comes to close your law firm how is productivity affected? Unfortunately, when weather strikes, many law firms suffer considerable productivity losses due to the fact that they do not have the adequate infrastructure in place for attorneys to have remote access.
George Leloudis Executive Director at Woods Rogers states, “I’m sure some are hard at work from their homes. But for those who use Elite to contemporaneously record their time, I’m sure they’ll miss some entries given the current state of our remote access. It’s a hassle to use for some, and impossible for others, exactly why we are implementing the mobile time entry solution, Bellefield’s iTimeKeep.”
Here are three considerations to becoming a mobile-ready firm:
- There is a difference between Mobile and mobile. Mobile means that you are taking a holistic look at your technological infrastructure to ensure that there is adequate access and support for all functions to be performed outside of the office in a seamless, hassle-free way. On the other hand, mobile happens when you simply “check the box” for certain things, such as perhaps having an app available to perform certain functions, regardless of whether they are user-friendly and likely to enhance the ability of attorneys to perform their functions outside of the office.
- The need for an effective Mobile infrastructure is exploited during times like this, when the weather prevents the office from opening. While contingency planning is very important, there is a constant and ever-increasing need to get this right because the nature of business is changing. As soon as an attorney leaves his or her desk, that attorney is a mobile worker. Work is increasingly taking place outside of the office and standard business hours.
- While having the right technology in place is very important, so is the support that goes with it. Simply having a BYOD option and access to applications that tie into your systems are not enough. Attorneys need to have access to support that will allow them troubleshoot and resolve issues that may arise during travel, when working from home or outside of normal work hours.
So, how productive was your firm during the most recent weather events? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.