A Markham, Ont. law firm is balancing the needs of employees and clients in its return-to-office strategy.
Laura Williams, founder and managing partner of Williams HR Law LLP, says the firm is requiring employees to work onsite two to three days per week, with Friday a designated remote-working day for all employees.
“It depends on the scope of your role, which determines whether you’re in two or three days. [We rotate our administrative] support team because we need to have certain coverage [onsite]. For our lawyers, we’re not setting a schedule. We want lawyers in the office Monday through Thursday and some prefer to be in the office at the beginning of the week, while others prefer the middle of the week.”
Employee feedback played an important role in shaping the return-to-office approach, she adds, noting it’s important for employers to not be too prescriptive in their approach. “The expectation with respect to how people want to work has changed. . . . From a client service perspective, there are certain requirements, but we realize autonomy and flexibility are important to our employees.”
It’s also critical to adjust the strategy as needed, says Williams, adding the firm is implementing its return-to-office requirement on a pilot basis until the end of the year. “We’ll refine and tweak the plan as necessary. You want buy-in to ensure it’s going to work with your team as well as your clients and customers.”
And to further support employees working onsite, the firm is also moving into a new office space that was designed with collaboration in mind. “There’s different spaces where team members can get together as opposed to being in their own offices. We’ve focused on collaboration and connection, knowing that we won’t be in the office every day of the week. . . . The reason why onsite attendance is important is because our team likes working together and we’ve missed that.”