Why hybrid working is only half the answer

Hybrid is on-trend. From shopping to banking, entertainment to work… Many experiences that were once purely physical have morphed into a hybrid. Even some ‘magic circle’ firms are reflecting our changed world by allowing their lawyers to do some of their work from home. Some think hybrid working is a post-pandemic panacea for outdated practices. Others are much less convinced about its benefits. Here’s why…

MANY RETAILERS ARE MOVING AWAY from the high street to focus more on their online offer. From bricks to clicks, you might say. They’re not abandoning shops altogether. They are hedging their bets.

This is hybrid retail. It joins hybrid cars, hybrid learning, hybrid events… You name it, many once purely physical experiences now come with a tech twin or another ‘add-on’.

Hybrid is a good halfway house for some of the retailers that grew up in an analogue world. Being tied to long leases – while also needing to serve customers glued to digital devices – means many retailers have to make a hybrid offer work.

Half-decent hybrids

Some hybrid retailers are doing a half-decent job. Their websites are well laid out, and their payments and delivery systems are usually fairly painless.

They have, of course, learned a lot over the last couple of decades from a relative youngster.

That youngster is Amazon. In common with other US mega-corps (Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft), Amazon is a tech company. Unlike conventional retailers, Amazon is not adjusting to 21st century customer habits: it was purpose-built for 21st century customer habits.

When Amazon opened its virtual doors in 1994, the internet still had pimples. But Jeff Bezos saw the potential. He saw that tech could give customers exactly what they wanted. Choice. Control. Convenience.

The new-model law firm

Before Amazon became a teenager, Chris and Guy Setford unveiled their new-model law firm.

Like Amazon, Setfords is also focused on what people want. Given choice, control and convenience, Setfords’ lawyers can work 30 hours a week from the Virgin Islands if that’s what suits them best.

However successful a lawyer you are, consider how likely this type of contract is with a hybrid firm.

Hybrid (from Latin hybrida) is a combination of two different things. A mule is a hybrid. Diesel-electric buses are hybrids.

As far as the founders of Setfords are concerned, hybrid means something along the lines of: “it’s okay… but it could be better”.

“Hybrid working fails to offer lawyers true freedom and true flexibility,” says Setfords’ co-founder, Guy. “Setfords has remote working at its heart. It’s been this way since day one. We now have 15 years experience of giving lawyers what they want. As 350 of them have joined us in that time, we feel confident we’re delivering.”

Conventional law firms are still reluctant to give lawyers real choice

Even as we ease out of a lockdown that forced firms to allow their lawyers to work from home, many are still only ‘trialling’ new hybrid arrangements. Their compromised offers include some flexibility, for now at least. Some are allowing their lawyers to do between 20-50 percent of their work from home. Earlier starts and later work patterns may become permanent, presumably if the trials are a success.

Yet, as every lawyer knows, trials don’t always go according to plan. Which means lawyers at those firms could find themselves returning to long commutes and even longer, 20th-century office hours.

Guy Setford is nonplussed by the reluctance of many firms to give lawyers the choice, control and convenience they want.

Happier lawyers, happier clients

“I have seen too many highly successful career lawyers who have lost their passion for the legal profession,” he says. “Years spent in a presenteeism culture, with unrealistic targets and set hours, have left them feeling despondent. Having the ‘freedom’ to work from home once a week is not enough to change that,” he adds.

“Setfords was founded on the premise that happier lawyers mean happier clients. This vision translates to an award-winning firm that puts the well-being of its team at its heart.”

Choice, control and convenience

As with most other businesses, lockdown forced law firms to adjust their thinking. This is no bad thing. A hybrid model works for some of those firms and will work for some lawyers.

But, if you want the choice, control and convenience of working where you want when you want, there is another way. A way that was built from the ground up to suit 21st-century lawyers. A way that is more financially rewarding, more flexible and more fulfilling.

Get in touch to find out more about becoming a consultant solicitor with Setfords. If we look a good fit for each other, we’ll interview you via Zoom if you don’t want to travel to the office. Because, as with most things at Setfords, we’ll let you decide what works best for you.

Call us on 0330 058 4011 or email info@setfords.co.uk.


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Lawyers who become consultants at Setfords earn more money, experience less office politics, and enjoy a better-work life balance. The next consultant could be you. So get in touch today and take the next step towards a happier life.

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