How can law firms track lawyers working from home?
Leading Managing Partners use Law App auto time and activity tracking Software.
November, 2022 - Author Kelly Mills
At some point, post Covid, most Professional Businesses find themselves grappling with the challenge of how to keep their remote or home-based employees productive. Working from home can be a great perk for employees, but it can also be a challenge for law firms to ensure that team members continue to meet goals and deadlines, both short and long term. Thankfully, there are some ways to help balance work and home life while still tracking productivity. Here are a few tips!
Align your law firms (or business) goals with the goals of your lawyers and staff.
When you're in business with someone, it pays to ensure your goals are aligned. That way neither of you needs to push and shove for each other's interests – a win-win situation! For example, if hiring out labor like trades people or services providers, agreeing on an overall cost is better than going by the hour. That'll give them incentive to finish quickly too; so consider adding a bonus for early completion - everyone coming together towards success!
Many professionals, especially those with an hourly rate job, can be motivated by bonuses or targets. Working from home is a great perk that doesn't even require extra money—as long as boundaries and expectations are set up and enforced right away! If staff aren't meeting the mark, they should know way ahead of time what this could mean for their remote work status.
Lawyers and admin staff can use the productivity tracker inside of Law App – which is normally used to create more accurate time entries, but can also measure how task productivity day-to-day
First and foremost, you need to define your goals clearly if you want aligning goals to work. Whether it's customer satisfaction or revenue targets, make sure you're clear on what those goals are before communicating them to your staff. Secondly you must tell them the metric you will use to measure these goals, and how they can track their own individual progress. Once you've done that, tell them how these aligned goals fit into the bigger picture and be transparent about any changes you make going forward. And finally, remember that you can have more than one goal – just make sure they're ordered correctly and by priority when defining them.
Above all this whole process doesn't have to be drafted like a legal contract or a policy thats 35 pages long, even for lawyers. You can define the goal, define the metric, and outline the consequence or bonus in a single page. All of these concepts are above and beyond your standard employment contract. Everything remains as is in their employment contract, place of work is at the office, your are defining luxuries, not minimums, people don't lose their jobs, they just lose their luxuries.
Legal software systems and trackers.
Billing targets and satisfaction surveys are two ways to track progress, but another tool that is just as effective is a tracker of movement and clicks. Tools like those found in Law App, Legal Practice Management Software, take note of each click location and task being completed within the system.
If you work in an environment where time equals billable hours, this type of system can save lots of money by ensuring every second is accounted for. It's easy to forget or not have time to enter data when you're busy, but with this method, staff will always know exactly how long each task took them.
Not only can these tools show you several key metrics, but they can also help you track activity within your practice management system. This is extremely helpful for staff members who need to be able to click through and enter data meaningfully. In addition, these tools allow you to see how much time is spent on a matter versus how much revenue is ultimately collected on the matter.
The ethical question at hand is whether or not to inform staff that their movements are being tracked. In our LawAPP system, the tracking is automatic, so there's no real need to tell them it's happening. What might be more necessary is letting them know that you find the tracking valuable and why, even if it's only in an advisory capacity.
What about 'busy people?' Listen to your intuition but also follow the data in your legal software system
Does your gut tell you that your staff are not effective when working from home (or the office.)
Tracking systems and aligned goals can't really assist you with weeding out "busy people." These are the individuals who click all the right clicks but don't seem to get anything done. While difficult, it is possible to identify these time-wasters.
Busy people generally hurt your reputation, their clients are billed more for work in many instances, and other staff are often unimpressed by their lack of continuity in the team. You can spot them, they are more stressed than everyone else but they don't have more workload.
The only way to find these team members is by testing and measuring task times across a variety of tasks. These productivity effectiveness tests may need to be conducted multiple times, to see if your intuition is right or not.
Mentor everyone, even your equals!
'Working it out by themselves' leads junior staff to spend fruitless hours on a task, only to give up and ask for help two days later. Generally young and enthusiastic staff aren't lazy or dumb, they just aren't making wise choices, and they aren't experienced enough to know better. This is something that no amount of AI or bonus structure can fix; there will always be a need for mentoring.
The best way to combat this is by holding biweekly touch base meetings that last no longer than 15 minutes. During these meetings, ask staff members what they are working on and if they have questions. Also, be sure to record the meetings (voice to text) so you review moments before your next meeting, and specifically ask them how they went on those tasks 2-3 days later. Requiring employees to dress up two days a week is also beneficial for them, get them out of their PJ's.😊
If you have a person you consider very experienced, you must still mentor, but mentor each other. Simply get together and discuss issues, and get their view, this type of equal mentoring can help seniors and founders alike to not feel alone in their roles and will help each of you improve.
At the end of the day, you may never get to 100% accuracy with all your staff, but if you focus on aligning their goals with yours, tracking their movements and listening to your intuition, you should be able to get a lot closer. Good luck!
This content was written with the help of a Law App business development specialist. For more information on how LawAPP can help your firm with time tracking, billing and practice management, please visit our website at www.lawsupport.com.au. Thank you!
Kelly Mills is a Financial and Technical Writer and Software Entrepreneur