How Law Firms In Toronto Can Work Remotely
Working remotely may have started as a temporary solution to lockdown restrictions, but as the restrictions enter a second year, those temporary arrangements are feeling more permanent. For some law firms, working from home can be a viable option even after restrictions are lifted. It’s a matter of having the right technology to deliver a professional experience to your clients.
Working away from the office requires a strong internet connection. Law firms need to ensure that their employees have access to fast and stable internet. Otherwise, they may lose connectivity in the middle of a video call or experience delays during a video conference. If using VoIP, strong connectivity is needed to ensure high-quality communications. Both are essential for professional interactions among colleagues and clients.
Virtual Private Network
Virtual private networks or VPNs create a secure connection between a remote location and the office. A VPN client is installed on the remote device. The client then establishes a secure connection to the office, where the user is authenticated and given access. If the firm’s digital resources, including case files, are stored on-premise or in a data center, VPN connectivity is the best method for secure communication.
Some law firms use cloud providers for storing and maintaining their digital assets. In those instances, the router that connects the remote device to the internet needs to be configured for the strongest possible security. If firms do not have in-house IT support, they should consider using a third party to help set up their remote locations to ensure maximum security.
The legal profession is known for its volume of paperwork. There are court filings, case briefs, and legal research sources. All of these documents need to be accessible to all firm employees. If documents are not digitized, consider converting them as soon as possible.
Scan Paper Documents
Scanning paper-only documents should be a first step. Determine the priority documents and have them scanned. Whether employees do the scanning or a third party is hired to complete the project, digital resources are essential to a successful remote workforce. Consider providing scanners or scanning software to employees to ensure all information is stored locally or in the cloud.
Some law firms may look at a hybrid model when restrictions are lifted. They may keep an office for in-person meetings and to operate their networks. Whether working fully or partially remote, businesses need to maintain digital backups of their systems.
Having offsite backups protects crucial data against cyberattacks and serves as a fail-safe should an unplanned event such as power outages or blizzards occur. Establish a regular schedule for backups that ensure minimal data loss should a disruption in service occur.
Using the cloud for data storage means employees can access the information from anywhere at any time. With the right software tools such as Microsoft’s 365, law firms can leverage cloud services to create a collaborative environment for staff when no one is in the office.
Whether your firm works remotely, in the office, or a combination of the two, the ultimate test is client experiences. If law firms are unable to deliver professional services that meet client expectations, it doesn’t matter where their offices are located. To ensure a quality experience, law firms should develop clear policies for how client interaction should occur, regardless of where it occurs.
When meetings become virtual, law firms need quality software to ensure that the experience runs as smoothly as possible. That requires configuring and testing the solution so employees are comfortable with how the solution works. It also means making sure the home environment conveys a professional atmosphere. Remind everyone to check their workspace for the following:
- Is the space uncluttered? Clients will spend as much time looking at the space behind the computer as they do listening. Make sure there are no inappropriate or offensive items on the wall or on the shelves. Be sure to organize shelves and remove domestic clutter, such as used coffee cups or laundry baskets.
- Is the space free of distractions? If possible, designate a room as the home office. Keep pets and children out when on a conference call or in a meeting. Employees won’t be at their best if they’re worrying about unplanned interruptions.
- Does the space have strong lighting? Even if employees prefer to work in dim lighting, they should have strong lighting in place for video interactions. Harsh lighting can be equally distracting to participants, so experiment with lighting to find the best solution.
To present a professional image, consider the following guidelines:
- Keep the video on. If staff turn off their video, clients and colleagues may wonder why. Is the person doing something else? Is there something that needs to be hidden? Keeping the video on eliminates those questions.
- Use a headset. Although laptops have strong microphones, headsets provide a more professional sound quality on all calls.
- Mute the computer. When not speaking, mute the sound. Remember, team members can hear those keys being tapped or that siren in the distance.
It’s important to convey a professional attitude at all times. Clients want to feel that their concerns are being taken seriously, which is difficult to do if they are fighting background noises and wondering if anyone is listening because they can’t see them.
Law firms may use answering services, virtual assistants, and VoIP phones to stay connected to their clients. Not every client is going to feel comfortable with video conferencing. Make sure there are multiple ways for clients to contact your firm. Post the contact methods on your website and provide options as part of answering the phone.
When moving to a remote work environment, law firms may need to strengthen their cybersecurity. If they are not using multi-factor authentication, they should. It’s vital to know that the individual logging in is really that person. With the increasing number of cyberattacks, law firms should conduct a thorough cybersecurity assessment to ensure their digital assets are protected.
Toronto IT Services For Law Firms
Toronto‘s law firms can safely work from home, provided they have trained IT support backing them up. Because a successful remote office depends on technology, every firm needs a trusted IT resource. Tektonic provides managed IT services to help your firm deliver a quality client experience within a secure environment using the best technology available. Contact us to discuss how to enable your law office to work remotely.