The eDiscovery industry in the UK, like many other industries, has been greatly impacted by the shift towards remote working in recent years following the Covid19 pandemic. The concept of remote-based work gained significant attention as a viable alternative to traditional office-based work given the circumstances of the pandemic.
The pandemic spurred the advancements in technology and more importantly, changed attitudes towards work-life balance. Many clients have embraced the idea of allowing contract lawyers and paralegals to work remotely even though the worse of the pandemic seems to be now over. However, this trend has also sparked a debate on whether remote-based work is a better option than office-based work or if it poses significant challenges to both contractors and clients.
In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of both remote-based work and office-based work specifically in relation to document review, and the impact of these options on productivity, work culture, contractor satisfaction and address concerns of clients.
What are the benefits?
One of the main advantages of remote working for contractors is increased flexibility. Remote working allows contractors to work from home, which can be especially beneficial for those with family or other commitments that make it difficult to work in a traditional office setting. This flexibility can also lead to an improvement in work-life balance, which can have positive effects on an individual's mental and physical well-being.
Another advantage of remote working for contractors is the potential for increased productivity. Many contract lawyers and paralegals find that they can be more productive when working from home, as they are able to create a work environment that is tailored to their individual needs and preferences. This can include things like setting their own schedule, reducing distractions, and being able to focus on their work without the distractions of an office environment.
With the recent cost of living crisis in the UK and elsewhere, the potential for reduced commuting time, travel costs and forgoing the additional expenses of daily paid lunches in the city is another advantage and a factor for contractors who opt for remote working contracts over those based in offices.
What are the disadvantages?
Alongside these advantages, remote working also has its drawbacks. One of the main disadvantages is the potential for isolation. Remote working can lead to feelings of isolation, especially for those who are used to working in a team or collaborative environment. This can be mitigated by using technology to stay connected with colleagues and participating in virtual meetings.
Another disadvantage of remote working is the difficulty in separating work and personal life. When working from home, it can be difficult to separate work and personal life, which can lead to burnout and other negative consequences. This can be mitigated by setting clear boundaries and creating a dedicated workspace.
In addition, remote working can make it more difficult to build and maintain professional relationships, as there is less opportunity for face-to-face interaction. This is especially relevant to contract lawyers and paralegals who are just starting out in their legal career and are at a stage where the building of professional relationships is fundamental to their career progression and their ability to develop and maintain a professional network. This can be mitigated to a degree by using technology to stay connected and participating in virtual meetings.
All clients justifiably have concerns regarding confidentiality. One of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust and allows for the free flow of information between all parties involved in a project. The security of confidential data during a remote review project is a concern for clients. With the recent introduction of two-factor authentication to the RelativityOne platform, it has never been easier to support secure and effective reviews in remote-working situations. This, along with other online security criteria, enables us to ensure the integrity of the review is always protected.
We also run strict checks on all remote-working staff to ensure the software they use and the processes they follow guarantee data integrity and protection.
In conclusion, while remote working has its advantages, it also has its own set of disadvantages. Ultimately, a combination of both remote and office-based working may be the best solution, allowing contract lawyers to have the flexibility and autonomy of remote working while also maintaining the professional connections and collaboration of office-based working.
At Altlaw, we fully appreciate the need to facilitate both in-office and remote working. As an Altlaw client, your preference is always considered when deciding whether a review is to be office-based, hybrid or remote and we are able to cater for all preferences with a dedicated in-house review manager overseeing your project, you can expect regular and effective support and updates on the progress of your case whenever required and regardless of whether clients opt for the review to be office-based, hybrid or remote.