Working from home sounds like a dream – and it is! But when you’re used to going to the office every day, transitioning your law firm to work from home is not as easy as just bringing home your computer. Who’s answering the phone? Will you be able to transfer calls to your colleagues? How will you communicate with the team you’re used to seeing every day? Will you be able to eliminate distractions? What part of your house will you work in? How will you keep the kids at bay?
You’ve probably already noticed the importance of these questions if you’ve recently shifted your office to working from home. In the case that you haven’t quite figured it all out yet, we’re here to help! Back Office Betties employees all work from home, and we’ve been doing so from the start – 6 years now! We’ve got the experience and the know-how and we’re going to fill you in on some of our tips and tricks on being successful while working from home.
The Basics of Working From Home
Before we get into the meat of actually transitioning your law firm to work from home, there are some basics you should know. Implementing the following will not only set you up for success, but it will also make your workdays feel a whole lot more normal during this period of everything being not normal.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
Set yourself up for success by setting up an area of your home that is only for working. This helps to eliminate the distractions of the rest of your house and also helps to let you stop working when your workday is done. Home Office Warrior has a comprehensive guide to help you set up your perfect workspace.
Decorate Your Workspace
We feel better and work better when we enjoy the space we’re in. Working on a dirty card table in the garage is going to be a whole lot less motivating than a home office with pictures on the walls. If you don’t have a home office, do your best to set up a makeshift office with a desk in another room. Add some flowers or your favorite notebooks to really make it feel like a place you want to spend your days.
Get Ready Every Morning
You may be tempted to roll out of bed late and get straight to work in your pajamas. It’s very very tempting – but trust us! Your productivity and your mood will thank you for making the effort to feel good. Take a shower, make your bed, and brush your teeth. You’ll thank us later.
Set Boundaries With Your Family
Make it clear that your work time is important and interruptions should be very few and far between. Some of our receptionists have makeshift signs on their home office doors that outline reasons you may interrupt and reasons you may not. This especially helps with kiddos who are seeking attention or want to tattle on their sibling and promotes resourcefulness. Obviously this doesn’t work for toddlers but is a great option for setting boundaries with older kids and spouses.
Nothing will burn you out more than staring at your screen for 10 hours. Schedule breaks for snacks and lunch. If you have kids, schedule quick playtime breaks as well. This helps you to fight the parental guilt of saying no to them and also helps you stay connected to your family throughout the day.
Dabble in Time Blocking
If you haven’t tried this method already, it’s a great way to boost your productivity and keep yourself on a schedule. Time blocking is basically a way of scheduling yourself to focus on one task (batching your tasks) for a certain period of time. The thought behind this is that you waste less time by switching tasks and eliminate distractions because you are only focusing on that one thing. This productivity hack also works perfectly with scheduling small breaks as mentioned above!
Create a Work Playlist
Listen to music that helps you focus on a low volume. Make this a part of your routine – sit at your workspace and turn your music on a low volume right away. This will help you get in the zone and subconsciously send triggers to your body that it is time to work.
Turn Your Cell Phone Upside Down
This one may sound really silly but eliminating distractions is truly key to staying focused while working at home. Turning your phone screen face down eliminates those catchy notifications that grab your eye. Checking one message can send you down a Facebook or LinkedIn rabbit hole and nobody needs that! Turn your notification alerts off and only keep the ringer on for phone calls so that you can stay focused without being out of the loop.
Transitioning Your Law Firm to Work From Home
Now that you’ve got some of the basics down and have found some ways that help you stay on task and productive, it’s time to determine the logistics of it all! How will you actually move your law firm into your home office?
- Update your office phone’s main voicemail. You do not want your voicemail to say that you are closed – clients will hang up and find someone else! Instead, let people know that you and working from home and how to get ahold of you. Set each staff member’s voicemail to provide their current contact information.
- Forward your office phone line to your cell phone. This is usually a pretty simple process and your phone provider can give you guidance on the exact steps to take.
- Update your website to include new working hours and appointment types. Consider adding an online calendar that allows them to schedule video appointments to your website. This will save everyone time and energy!
- Alert your clients that office appointments will take place through video conference calls. Set up an account with your favorite video conferencing site and be sure to let clients know how to access your meetings when they have scheduled appointments.
- Get automated!! Make things easier on yourself by setting up processes that don’t need you to touch them. Automate client emails and follow-ups, automate legal agreements and payment requests… everything that you can. This will save you so much time and headaches while working from home.
- Set up a chat platform to stay in contact with your team. Slack is perfect for this and has a reasonable price tag.
- Set up a backdrop for your video meetings. Professionalism doesn’t have to go out the window because you are working from home! Whether it be hanging a plain sheet behind you, setting up in front of your best-decorated wall, or simply adjusting your backdrop with settings on Zoom. Whatever you do, do not take video calls with a huge mess behind you.
Get to Work
- Create a daily and weekly to-do list. Look at your calendar each week and create a list of vital tasks to complete and/or meeting you have, then segment that list into a daily list. This helps you to stay on track with your goals and not accidentally forget vital tasks. Update and review this every morning!
- Ensure that your computer is password protected and that you lock it every time you step away. Your client data is private and you want to be sure nobody can mess with your work.
- Avoid writing anything down on paper. If you must take notes, do so by typing them out on a virtual sticky note or in a Word document. With kids at home, your notes can be strewn about or colored on and that is not a mistake we want to see you make. Trust us on this one ;)
- Consider hiring an answering service, even if temporarily. If your family is home with you and you don’t feel confident in the ability to answer every phone call without interruptions, consider outsourcing your phones to an answering service. They can screen your calls and schedule your appointments so that all you have to do is show up for appointments.
We hope this article was helpful and makes the transition to working from home easier on you! If you have any questions or are interested in trying out a legal-specialized answering service while you get through this time, give us a call at (800) 958-8591. Stay home and stay healthy!