How the Legal Industry can Adapt to the Four-Day Week

Contributed by Bernadette Bennett, Head of Sector for Moneypenny

The legal industry is not immune to the phenomenon of the four day working week, which is currently growing in popularity with companies across the US. New research from outsourced communications company, Moneypenny, suggests the work week is certainly changing. The outsourced communications company that handles calls for 21,000 business worldwide, has seen the number of successfully completed call transfers on Fridays, dropping from 19% in 2019, to 12% today, as staff are becoming less available.  The overall number of calls handled is consistently dropping by 2% on Fridays, and this is difficult for law firms to handle if they need to make long-term plans for critical teams that rely on offices, and schedules for in-person operations. 

In addition, Moneypenny research suggests the working day is also getting shorter, as the number of hours actively taking calls have also fallen, with just 16% of calls being taken after 4 p.m., representing a 9% decline on 2019 figures. Again, this could be a particular issue for people needing to contact their lawyers after 4pm, particularly as we know many will phone want to phone when they finish work.

“We’re definitely seeing the impact of the hybrid working model in the changing availability of company staff across multiple industry sectors, including the legal sector. Friday has become a more relaxed day when people are working from home,” said Eric Schurke, CEO of North America for Moneypenny. “Similarly, the bulk of communications and meetings are taking place earlier in the day, and we are seeing calls lasting longer, suggesting employees are condensing certain activities.”

For legal industry employees, hybrid working can mean greater flexibility and autonomy, while for employers it can mean concerns over productivity and empty offices at points throughout the week. Just 30% of businesses expect their workforce to be fully back on-site before 2023, and the four-day work week, while still not particularly common, is becoming increasingly popular. Some argue that companies are not losing a huge amount of output on a Friday and instead are gaining huge amounts of goodwill from staff, but the difficulty is in how this will be perceived by clients, particularly if it means they experience longer waits for meetings or calls.

“While Fridays may become quieter, conversely there is a very real sense that employees’ working days are becoming longer overall, as work and non-work activities become blurred throughout the week,” added Schurke. “Employees may work later on some days and more frequently during the weekend, so companies can easily accept changing workplace practices and lower traditional productivity on Fridays, as long as targets are met.”

What is crucial for legal companies, is to ensure that changing work patterns and a four day working week do not impact on client services, and Eric has the following tips to help ensure business communications can continue as usual:

  • Outsource your communications: there’s no excuse for having a voicemail service running after 4pm, or on Fridays, as a replacement for staff.  The legal industry is people-oriented, so should have real human beings responding to clients’ calls or messages.  An outsourcing company can provide expert call handlers to act as an extension to your team.  They’ll get to know your business and can handle enquiries when your staff are unavailable, or when there is a surge in demand.  The service is incredibly flexible and cost effective, and can be turned on or off, according to your need.

We all know a law company whose phone line is handled by a fierce gatekeeper, who does little to calm a worried client. It’s therefore worth bearing in mind that outsourced call handlers are experts in talking to people, with superb listening skills, who are highly skilled in dealing with callers who are anxious or upset, so they’re likely to handle calls a lot better than your in-house team.

  • Introduce Live Chat: According to Moneypenny, use of Live Chat doubled during the pandemic, as customers loved the immediacy of getting the information they want, without having to wait for a phone call to be answered.  In an age of text messages and What’sApp messaging, it’s perhaps natural that customers like the neutrality of communicating through Live Chat, and many of Moneypenny’s legal clients are already seeing the value of it.

Moneypenny live chat handlers are expected to answer a Live Chat enquiry within 20 seconds, and a Live Chat handler can manage three times the number of interactions via Live Chat that they could handle on the phone, so it’s a great addition to the variety of communication channels used by legal companies for their patients, and can be used to bolster your in-house team when they are unavailable, or busy. 

  • Adopt new communications technology: earlier this year, Moneypenny launched an integration with Microsoft Teams that enables incoming calls to be directly transferred via Microsoft Teams wherever employees are working. The new integration helps manage the disruptions of hybrid working to ensure each call is routed to the right employee the first time, and means Moneypenny can check Teams status and only transfer calls when the person is free.
  • Don’t fight Fridays: it could become the day that is more focused on non-traditional workplace activities. While the data suggests that people are less available or active on a Friday, this could be because they are condensing certain activities into that day. This could be networking activity, case reviews, and reading documentation, or even taking time to think about challenges in the coming week. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Moneypenny is a global leader providing phone answering, receptionist teams, live chat and customer contact solutions and is the most trusted partner to large and small businesses. Moneypenny has an award-winning culture and over 1000 employees across the US and UK. It handles over 20 million calls and chats for 21,000 businesses and blends awesome people superpowered by leading-edge tech solutions to deliver seamless customer engagement outcomes. 

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