Working From Home

Working from Home – Adapting during COVID-19

So as I sit at the dining room table facing my laptop on this Monday morning compiling the company statistics from last week, it dawns on me just how stoic people can be during times of adversity.

Evolve Law is a company solely operating in residential conveyancing, and our clients rely on us to ensure that the sale and purchase of their home is facilitated with the minimum of fuss. That is regardless of anything else that is going on.

The current Covid-19 situation is a national health crisis, and we should rightly be concerned about the loss of life and economic harm suffered as a result. That said, while our jobs are clearly not as vital in the same way as NHS workers, the emergency services, or even those employed in the food supply chain, we still have an obligation to our clients. We must continue working diligently in the best interests of those who have trusted Evolve Law to act on their behalf.

Most of our clients have decided to move home due to a genuine need as opposed to a want. Given the considerable financial outlay in purchasing a property, not to mention the time and stress, the vast majority of those active in the housing market at any given time do so with full commitment to proceed with the process until completion.

Considering that the majority of the UK’s workforce will be present in the same boat, there is a considerable level of understanding amongst everyone that we deal with.

Most are moving to be closer to work or preferred schools, and some are down-sizing, some need more space for a growing family, and others have taken that most exciting of steps and decided to purchase their first home. For these clients, they may have taken years to save, months to decide on location, weeks house-hunting, days negotiating then moments to decide to instruct Evolve Law to represent them and complete the engagement paperwork.

While we are all, quite rightly, anxious about the Coronavirus and the implications for the health of our population, our staff from the Legal Assistants to the Conveyancers and the Senior Management Team are all focused on ensuring that wherever possible, we continue to progress their transactions as desired.

Inevitably compromises will have to be made considering some people are self-isolating and others have doubts about their employment security.

Our senior lawyers have been considering several recommended amendment clauses to accommodate both potential concerns. These are not normal circumstances, and as such, legal compromises are made.

Many clients are reporting their relief at the swift, decisive and generous offer made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to primarily underwrite any the financial shortfall due to Coronavirus of firms through grants.

The government is also offering assistance to individuals who may be encountering a loss of work and therefore, income.

The bold and necessary move by the government firmly tells us as all that we are not alone; the state will support us financially while we deal with the impact of Covid-19.

Taken as read the fact that we feel an obligation to ensure it is “Business as Usual”, this brings me onto my point about how we adapt given the latest government advice to work from home. Whether in our Milton Keynes or London office; Evolve staff are accustomed to sitting in a room together and continually communicating regarding not just specific files and clients, but also broader points about best practice and the law itself.

That is not to mention the camaraderie of teamwork and shared interests outside of work. As a relatively young company, we decided some years ago to invest significantly in our IT infrastructure, which allows us to be almost paperless and able to work remotely at all times. Evolve Law has some of the most modern and technologically advanced systems within the conveyancing industry, and at times like these, it is paying dividends.

As an example our Managing Director, Marc Lansdell, frequently logs in and raises enquiries while sat on the train to and from work; I often find myself emailing referrers and compiling team stats while waiting to collect my children from nursery.

Couple this with the ability to access files remotely, colleagues can talk to each other through either a live text app or indeed video call. This ensures nothing is lost to nuance for those who are used to speaking to one another directly.

Of equal importance is making sure that while we may be working in our own homes, we are still all part of a team and as individuals are each vital to the wellbeing and productivity of one another. Just because we are not physically sitting together at this time does not mean that we no longer care how our colleague’s weekend was or what they watched on television. The key to how we manage during this highly unusual and unsettling time is how we adapt; the early signs at Evolve Law are encouraging.

As a member of the Senior Management Team at Evolve Law, I feel it is incumbent on me to make regularly touch base with staff to see how they are doing. While we are only a few days into the present arrangements, it would be natural for us to feel somewhat isolated and missing the atmosphere of the office.

Many of us will have set up a home office on the kitchen table and will be doing their best to continue delivering the highest level of customer service with worried clients while dealing with our children being at home.

My sons, aged 13-months and 3-years, present their unique challenges to working from home. My wife was on a conference call this morning and our 3-year old picked this moment to walk in and ask what colour trousers he should be wearing today!

Such is the nature of the working/parenting balancing act.

Considering that the majority of the UK’s workforce will be present in the same boat, there is a considerable level of understanding amongst everyone that we deal with.

Depending upon the age of children involved, it may be that the most effective working schedule for those staff might be to work in shifts with their partners. One parent is working while the other looks after the children, and vice versa, with work being caught up on after regular working hours when children are in bed.

Ultimately a degree of flexibility could and should be offered to accommodate, and I am confident that one’s responsibilities to our clients and children can be simultaneously met.

This arrangement is not one that any of would voluntarily choose which is why working parents pay considerable sums of money to send our children to nurseries but, that said, I suspect a new work/life balance will develop.

These are unprecedented circumstances with some measures not seen since the Second World War. We are obligated to make the best of the situation; I am confident that as a society, a company, and as individuals, we will adapt and show tremendous levels of resilience.

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