Dear LiL: What if I don’t want to go back to the office after COVID-19? Signed ~ Happy at Home
Dear Happy at Home:
I love this question! It is so relevant to each of us working remotely and feeling guilty about how much we enjoy working without a commute and all the distractions of the office. It also follows my reading an excellent article in the NY Times on this very issue.
In my view, this ask of your law firm is a balancing act. After COVID-19 I expect law firms and other employers will be more open to such a request as long as you can show how this will benefit you and your relationship with your clients and other members of the firm. For example, if you can show how this arrangement will improve productivity (imagine the extra time you have to work when not travelling to and from the office) and save the travel costs and other costs associated with maintaining an office that will be helpful. Importantly, you can reasonably advocate that you will have the opportunity to keep a safer distance from viruses and bacteria. You can also argue your mental health will benefit as you presumably would have more time to spend on fitness. There are obviously pros and cons to consider when contemplating your proposal, but you can make a reasonable case for working at home particularly if you have shown to be effective in your work habits while in the office in the past and while at home. You will need to remain responsive to clients and senior counsel and ensure your work environment at home is as free of distractions as possible. The NY Times article will give you some food for thought as you develop your proposal. You can read the full article here – but, full disclosure, you will need to set up a free account.