Change ‘works for majority of people’, says firm
Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) has unveiled a new flexible working policy that will require all its staff to come into the office on Thursdays, reducing the number of days its lawyers can work from home from three days to just two.
The firm’s European managing partner Jonathan Jones labelled the new policy ‘all-in Thursdays’ in a speech to staff about the new arrangements.
In September 2020, the firm launched a trial period where it allowed its lawyers to work remotely up to 50% of the time. The firm confirmed to Legal Cheek that, prior to the announcement, SPB’s associates were asked to come three days a week, while its professional staff had no set number of office days mandated by the firm.
At the time, Jones stated that the firm “will be monitoring circumstances closely and listening to our people over the coming months in order to be as flexible and accommodating as possible to everyone’s varying circumstances. Over time, we look forward to welcoming colleagues, clients and business contacts back to the office.”
It appears that that moment is now arriving. A spokesperson for the firm said:
“After surveying our employees, it is clear that our hybrid working trial has been successful and will now be embedded in our on-going work arrangements. Equally, our people have expressed that they enjoy being together and appreciate the benefits that come from in-office collaboration, supervision and mentoring. Taking this all into consideration, we have decided to institute an ‘all-in’ day every Thursday, which we understand works for a majority of people. ”
The spokesperson added that any change to pre-existing working arrangements “would be subject to discussion with that individual’s manager to assure that person’s needs are met”.
SPB isn’t the only firm to tweak its approach to flexible working. Earlier this summer Magic Circle player Freshfields confirmed lawyers would need to be in the office at least three days-a-week — a change to the 50% of the time previously implemented by the firm.
But there has been great divergence in flexible working policies among different law firms.
Last year, RPC told lawyers and staff they could work from home permanently so long as this doesn’t impact on client service and collaborating with colleagues, whilst in April Stephenson Harwood announced it will reduce the salaries of staff who want to work from home permanently by 20% with a policy that staff must work from the office three days a week.
Others are still experimenting with more extensive WFH policies. During August US outfit Shearman & Sterling gave all its London staff the option to work remotely following feedback from an internal survey of its staff.