Over half of legal sector workers say they need more help to work productively from home

A survey of British working habits since the coronavirus lockdown began has found that more than three quarters (77%) of workers in the legal profession believe the lockdown has proven they can work effectively from home but over half say their company ought to be doing more to help.

In the survey by Atlas Cloud, 56% of respondents said they believe their company should be doing more to help them work productively from home. The study looked into the working habits of more than 3,000 office workers of which just over 100 were legal sector workers.

More than a sixth of legal workers (17%) are using a personal laptop for homeworking and almost two thirds of those (63%) are storing work files on their personal device, raising concerns about the security of business information.

Atlas Cloud says that the legal sector is now facing a “trilemma” of homeworking problems – a global shortage of laptops; poor home broadband connection; and cyber security issues.

Less than half (44%) of legal workers said their employer has helped them to make adequate provisions to work from home long-term. And 20% said they need their company to act urgently to enable them to work productively from home during the lockdown.

The Government’s latest advice is that those who can work from home should continue to do so and even when the legal sector does return to work, firms will need to be prepared for a return to remote working if there are fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud, which delivers IT services on behalf of Ward Hadaway, Wellers Law Group, Sintons and Hay & Kilner, said: “We are living through the largest overnight change in British working habits since the outbreak of the Second World War.

“Our research shows that almost half of workers believe they need more help from their employers to cope with the technological challenges of working from home. However, the research also shows that legal workers are not working from home as safely as they could be from a business and cyber security aspect.

“This should not at all be a blame game. The legal sector has faced a national emergency of the kind we have never seen before and the aim for all of us is to help solicitors and other legal professions to perform as well as they can do during this time.

“We anticipate that among the largest changes we’ll see to our working lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is a much larger proportion of Britain’s legal sector working from home more often and a change in how the legal sector handles business information.”

“Many organisations are run using a device-led IT model, where work and sensitive data is often held on devices, like laptops, tablets and smartphones themselves.

“While legal sector workers have highlighted their difficulties in working from home, law firms are also telling us they face a trilemma of significant homeworking problems: including a shortage of laptops, poor home broadband speeds fuelled by entire households connecting their devices at home and cyber criminals using the coronavirus to target organisations with sophisticated phishing and malware attacks.

“To solve the trilemma the legal sector should move away from device-led IT and towards server-led IT such as virtual or hosted desktops, where information is stored on on-premise servers or in the cloud.”

And he told Legal IT Insider: “One of the biggest challenges the legal sector has is that their IT and information management is completely centred around their case management systems.Typically these case management systems are old and do not run very quickly or efficiently.

“However, the vast majority of solicitors bill for their hours of work so introducing a completely brand new IT and case management system not only takes weeks to implement it also impacts on billable hours and solicitor’s productivity as they struggle to adapt to a new case management system for months and sometimes years afterwards.

“Server-led IT offers a win-win for the legal sector by enabling them to take their existing case management system, which staff are familiar with, and host it in the cloud creating a much faster, safer and more stable case management system for solicitors to work with.”