June 16, 2021
By Steven O'DonnellReading Time: 4 minutes
As we shifted from traditional office roles to COVID-induced remote work being the norm, businesses across most industries adjusted and adopted new policies and tools to stay afloat and, in some cases, succeed. Now, as lockdowns ease and restrictions change, 2021 finds us watching as more businesses move into a hybrid workplace.
A myriad of questions face organizations. Some of the major ones are concerns across the board, regardless of where in the world you’re located. Will your staff be willing and allowed to work in the physical office? How many companies will remain flexible about remote work? With findings showing that remote workers are more productive than they were in the office, most will likely offer the opportunity in the long run.
In fact, according to a report by Owl Labs, respondents felt that if they were no longer allowed to work remotely post-pandemic, 66% would stay but be less happy, 54% would stay in their roles, but be less willing to go the extra mile, and 44% would expect a salary increase.
A new strategy is needed
As more questions materialize, it’s time to formulate and implement a strategy for how best to support and manage employees to succeed in the new hybrid workplace. You dealt with the shift to remote work – can it really be that much more difficult? Short answer: yes.
“In a lot of ways it’s going to be more disruptive than when we went all remote,” said Brian Kropp, vice president of research at Gartner, to The Washington Post. In short, Legal Ops plays a huge role in helping the rest of the organization address the issues that a hybrid workplace may face, from business continuity challenges to implementing effective automation at a time of confusion.
Legal Operations needs to prioritize building a legal tech stack that can securely and productively unite an ecosystem of in-house teams, outside counsel, and service providers. What are the essential technologies that can get you started on this path?
Legal Workflow and Process Automation
If your Legal Operations employees are disseminated across various locations and scenarios, it’s paramount to ensure that your work processes are efficient, collaborative, and trackable (in case of a future audit). This means it falls to legal ops to implement the right technology – i.e., workflow and process automation to unite the hybrid workforce around optimized, digitized processes.
An end-to-end automation solution that spans your organization and covers all of its needs is ideal, particularly one with legal and operational best practices and security measures embedded within it. The effectiveness of your hybrid workforce greatly depends on workflow automation. Your technology solution should offer flexibility, ease of use, and transparency.
Enterprise Legal Management
Efficiency has taken on a whole new level of importance post-pandemic, and it’s crucial to cast an eye over your daily operations and reevaluate each one, especially through the lens of information governance. An effective ELM solution should support an array of corporate legal needs, ranging from matter management to spend management and much more.
An ELM should provide a centralized matter management capability. This is of paramount importance in managing multiple matters being handled by far-flung staff. Also, your ELM should also be your single source of truth for all your legal matters. In this new hybrid environment, all your Legal Ops team members need equal and immediate access to materials, documents, status updates, and so on. Having disconnected systems for information retrieval will result in wasted time, effort, and money.
That’s why your ELM should also enable a complete audit trail of all changes made to information assets or documents, mitigating compliance and security risks.
Expanded Integration Capabilities
As work-from-anywhere becomes the norm, collaboration tools have experienced a surge in popularity. You would be hard-pressed to find an organization that doesn’t currently use Slack, Microsoft Teams, or a similar platform for internal and/or external communications.
As the number of collaboration tools and platforms increases, it’s crucial that your solution offers expanded integration capabilities to let it work seamlessly with them – particularly in the case of workflow automation. Not only does this help ensure efficiency across the board, it gives greater functionality to your legal tech stack since the right workflow automation solution will connect and accelerate other solutions, even legacy platforms.
Addressing the needs of hybrid Legal Ops
There are three major “must-haves” that Legal Ops needs to consider as it assesses technologies to support hybrid working environments. The first is flexibility– your technology solution should be able to easily accommodate different scenarios as they arise, especially ones as unique as we have experienced in the past year. Second, your solution should be agile and able to pivot quickly to address these scenarios. Finally, your Legal Operations team should ensure that any solution adopted supports business continuity. Whatever operational or organizational changes may happen, or disruptions occur, your tech tools should always enable you to keep fulfilling the legal objectives and strategy of your enterprise.
The three technologies we’ve covered are crucial, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Watch our sponsor session, “Justin Time! The Legal Ops Ecosystem of Today and Tomorrow” at CLOC Global Institute on Wednesday, May 12th at 9:00 AM-10:00 AM PT. The virtual session will address the cornerstone technologies that make sense for legal ops to adopt to meet near-term needs, and future solutions that incorporate collaboration tools, big data, and machine learning for the long haul.