b'Fit for the futureSupporting efficient remote working is now an imperative for local government legal departments, writes Simon Farthing.Covid-19 has transformed working practicesChallenges to remote working workloads, micromanagement by leadership universally and local government legalDigital transformation has been a majorand juggling childcare and work were major departments are no exception. Localfocus area in the public sector for a few yearsfactors.Government Lawyers recent survey ofnow, so there is a fair amount of technology public sector lawyers shows that 89% of staffalready deployed in legal departments.Approaching technology deployment to now work remotely, compared to a mereHowever, remote working during theaid remote working29% in the pre-Covid-19 era. Interestingly,lockdown has brought several issues to theFortunately, many of these problems are while historically reduced performancefore. For instance, case, matter, and practiceeasily solvable with the right technology. and attention to client management havemanagement systems are widely deployed,In fact, many legal departments already been among the key reasons for preferringbut some have proved to be less reliabledeploy those technologies. As public sector office-based working over remote working,and unfit for purpose in the remote workingorganisations review existing IT budgets, 72% of lawyers claim working from homescenario. Why? Access to them requiressystems, and resources to meet the needs of has made no difference to client relationshipconstant and robust connectivity, amongthe new work environment, there are some management and communications. other things. key considerations that theyll do well to take It comes as no surprise that the majorityWith the amount of documentation thatinto account:of lawyers are keen to work from home in theis typically generated by lawyers, even in future tooonly 4% of legal staff expect toorganisations where document automationEnabling intuitive supervision and compliancerevert to pre-Covid-19 office-based workingtechnology was available, only a minorityEmployee supervision and process compliance with 78% expecting their employers to provideactually used it.The same applied totakes place naturally in a physical environment more flexible options for working here on in.document bundling services. advice at the water cooler, unplanned This poses challenges for management andStructural changes to the wider legaldiscussion of a client or business problem in heads of legal, who have found supervision ofsystem are taking place too with online courtthe office kitchen, requesting a colleague who staff difficult, and may even prefer a returnhearings widely touted to become the norm.is sat across to resend a particular email that to the status quo pre-Covid-19. The reality, ofHere too, poor IT is challenging lawyers,an individual simply cant locate, and so on. course, is that remote working is very muchclients, and judges alike. Physical proximity in an office facilitates these part of our present and for the foreseeableDuring the lockdown, the lack of fit forkinds of informal safeguards effortlessly.future. The uncertainty surrounding thepurpose remote working technology mayIn a remote workforce environment, lifespan of the pandemic, and the need forhave impacted legal department productivity,systems need to thoughtfully embed such social distancing means that space is simplybut there have been other difficultiesprotections and precautions in the form not going to be enough to enable a completealso that potentially played their part. Forof timely review processes, escalation return to office imminently. example, stress due to significantly increasedpoints, and such to ensure supervision. For'