Posted March 19th, 2020 by Rob Hosier
The team at inCase wanted to use our expertise to hopefully provide some useful information for the difficulties the industry will face over the coming weeks. We have some of the greatest brains in the LawTech space and have a unique knowledge of the systems and technology that firms are already using. So hopefully our tips here will help some of you when making important decisions over the coming days. The main priorities are:
Working From Home Policies: –
What are the infrastructure needs when allowing our staff to work from home?
Security – It is not safe to allow them to use their own computer as you have no control over virus’ or access.
Poor equipment – Slow computers hamper productivity. A lot of people forget that if people are working from home, most home internet connections will not be of the required standard/speed, especially if you are expecting to use VOIP calls or remote desktops. It might be beneficial to support members of staff to upgrade their internet connection – especially as a lot of people in their neighbourhood could be working from home and thus reduce the local bandwidth.
Laptops – If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase laptops for all your members of staff, then do so – remember, most retailers will allow you to return items in a resalable state within 28 days. Consequently, you can have them ready to deploy if needed.
Chromebooks – Another option that we have used in previous firms was to issue members of staff with ‘Chromebooks’ and then use RDP (remote desktop) to access servers/systems in our environment. For example you can purchase a Chromebook for less than £200 plus VAT (https://www.ebuyer.com/908845-asus-c204ee-gj0081-3y-intel-celeron-4gb-16gb-emmc-11-6-chromebook-c204ee-gj0081-3y ). This then allows you to use your existing systems and more importantly, your existing Case Management System for your lawyers to work from home. Additionally, we would also suggest making sure each Chromebook has the very latest anti-virus/security software installed prior to issuing to all staff.
Mobile Phones – Pay as you go sim cards are available from most retailers (including supermarkets). Normally all you need to do is place £10 credit per sim card and the number will work. You may want to go out and purchase cheap/second-hand (see https://uk.webuy.com) phones for your staff. However, we know from the use of inCase that all of your staff will already have a mobile phone, and most might have a spare old phone at home. If you find out what network they need, you could ask your staff to use their own phone and pop in the new sim card. You can then divert your office numbers to the allocated mobile number.
Post Room – One of the biggest challenges will exist in the post that will continue to be sent to your office when staff are absent or working from home. For firms that have gone paperless and have a digital post room, your only challenge will be to maintain the staffing of the same – you may want to train as many members of staff on this role NOW.
For firms that do not have a digital post room, there are still things you can do to help mitigate disruption here as much as possible. Firstly, encourage both clients and other law firms to not send items in the post – the more you can do to limit the post the easier it will be to manage in difficult circumstances. Encourage clients to use tools like inCase to communicate that will eliminate all post from them. Other firms can email all documents/letters to your Fee Earners (without sending a copy in the post!).
However, difficult times like this are a great opportunity to innovate your practices. It is very simple and inexpensive to implement a very rudimental digital postroom. Most modern photocopiers have the ability to scan documents quickly into an electronic PDF. Scanners can also be purchased for as little as £200! – see https://www.printerbase.co.uk/epson-workforce-ds-1630-scanner.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwx7zzBRCcARIsABPRscPBSYX_r4FQeEc23eZ2CBVUaXulHqej3dAV6MkWexmCGh6_3DGtB-0aArNnEALw_wcB
Even a basic scanner like this is easy for ANY member of staff to scan any document into a PDF and email/send to the relevant person. Guidance can be given on what documents will still need to be stored, but generally most letters can be destroyed immediately.
Again, remote workers can email/scan documents at home to send out electronically and consequently there is no need for a printed and posted version – saving you money!
This then means, in the worst of scenarios, the actual only function that needs to be staffed in the office is the post room – although if you take actions to reduce the amount of post, this should only be needed for a few hours per day.
We would recommend using a RDP service like Citrix detailed below, this will allow your employees to use your current software in the usual environment. Providing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection for each home worker will also add extra protection to your data and systems ( one provider is https://www.perimeter81.com/pricing?a_aid=146 )
However, there are other systems and software products available that can really help with internal and external communication and try to keep your team as positive and productive as possible. As a business that has always had remote workers and staff working from home, we use these products on a daily basis.
Look at what costs can be reduced: – Using technology in the right way can have huge cost savings for your business. Additionally, working from home will save you money in heating, electricity, paper, postage, DX and even teabags!!!
Implementing Work from Home Strategies (the softer points): – Our CEO has also written this article on what he has done for both of his businesses regarding WFH strategies:
From all of the team here at inCase, we hope the next few months are not too challenging and if there is ANYTHING we can do to help, even if it is just a second opinion, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Internally, the app has freed up the solicitors’ time without reducing the standards of work. This means the clients that cannot use the app do not have to wait as long for an appointment with us. Essentially, inCase has benefited all clients, not just those who own a smartphone...Patrick O’Hare – Managing Partner, Paschal O’Hare Solicitors
There are many benefits to the app, including improved efficiency internally and streamlined communication – but by far the biggest benefit is the enhancement to our customer service.Rachel Stow – MD, Thorneycroft Solicitors
Our main priority is to provide the best client experience throughout what can be a stressful time – buying or selling a house. This app does all that and more!Adam Cheal - MD, Fletcher Longstaff
Here at Sweeney Miller we understand that moving house can be an unnerving prospect and one of life’s more stressful experiences, so we take every step we can to ensure our clients are happy and informed throughout the process. inCase is the perfect solution taking our customer service to the next level.Paul Miller - Managing Partner, Sweeney Miller Law
Integration with our case management system was essential to avoid driving up operational costs within the firm. In fact, these have lowered, with the automated messages we are now able to send clients, updating them on their case within a split second.Sucheet Amin – MD, Aequitas Legal
I was reassured to hear the Apps features worked within the SRA guidelines for client conduct and I felt even more confident about its suitability when I found it was originally developed for a practice with similar beliefs to my own.Bruce Hatton – MD, Hattons Solicitors