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. As a company that solely operates in residential conveyancing, our clients rely on us to ensure that the sale and purchase of their home is facilitated with the minimum of fuss 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 being suffered as a result. That being said, whilst 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 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. Most are moving to be closer to work or preferred schools, 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. Whilst 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 a number of recommended amendment clauses to accommodate both potential concerns. These are not normal circumstances and as such, legal compromises will be made. Many clients are reporting their relief at the swift, decisive and generous offer made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to essentially underwrite any the financial shortfall due to Coronavirus of firms by means of grants. This is in addition to offering assistance to individuals who may be encountering a loss of work and therefore income. The bold and necessary move by the government strongly tells us as all that we are not alone, the state will support us financially whilst we deal with the impact of Coivd-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 constantly communicating regarding not just specific files and clients; but also wider 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 for 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 whist sat on the train to and from work; I often find myself emailing referrers and compiling team stats whilst waiting to collect my children from nursery. Coupled with the ability to access files through the remote desktop and actively work on our ongoing transactions, colleagues can talk to each other through either a live text app or indeed video call to ensure that nothing is lost to nuance for those who are used to speaking to once another across a desk. Of equal importance is making sure that whilst 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. Whilst 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 whilst dealing with our children being at home. My own sons aged 13 months and 3 years present their own 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 presently in the same boat, there is a considerable level of understanding amongst everyone that we deal with. Depending on the age of children involved it may transpire that the most effective working schedule for those staff might be to work in shifts with partners so that one parent is working whilst the other looks after the children and vice versa with work being caught up on after normal 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. Clearly this arrangement is not one that any of would voluntarily chose which is why working parents pay considerable sums of money to send our children to nurseries but that being 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.
Clients can click https://www.evolvelaw.co.uk/covid-19/ for our advice and policy on Covid-19