Latest news – Sick of video calls; Rethinking office space; Baker McKenzie on top

[Australasian Law Management Journal,General Management,Marketing & Business Development,Strategy & Leadership] January 28, 2021

Professionals suffer ‘video call fatigue’

A new study from global staffing firm Robert Half suggests that a high proportion of workers are suffering from “video call fatigue”. The survey reveals that more than three-quarters of professionals say they participate in virtual meetings, with respondents indicating they spend almost a third of their workday on camera with business contacts or colleagues. In addition:

  • 38 per cent say they have experienced video call fatigue since the start of the pandemic;
  • 26 per cent note that the practicality and novelty of videoconferencing has worn off during the past eight months;
  • 24 per cent say they find virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting and prefer to communicate via other channels, such as email or phone;
  • the most common video call pet peeves are dealing with technical issues (28 per cent) and too many meeting participants and people talking over each other (19 per cent);
  • one in four working parents (25 per cent) reported spending more than half of their on-the-job hours in virtual meetings; and
  • more women (47 per cent) than men (32 per cent) say they are tired of videoconferencing.

“Video calls became the go-to way for professionals to connect, collaborate and build rapport at the start of the pandemic,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. “While effective in some instances, they can be draining in others and are best used in moderation.”

He adds that workers are busier than ever and strapped for time. “Before setting up a video call, always determine the goal and if it can be accomplished via other means,” McDonald says.

Robert Half offers three tips for helping professionals make the most of video calls:

1. Test your tech. Check your computer’s camera, microphone and internet connection. Close any unused programs to increase your bandwidth and reduce the temptation to multitask.

2. Limit the guest list.Small groups tend to be more effective and engaged. Make sure everyone you invite has something valuable to offer and a stake in the outcome.

3. Set expectations from the get-go. Send an agenda and supporting materials in advance so participants can prepare. During the discussion, capture notes and action items to share in a recap.


Office space shrinking for US law firms

Law firms in the United States are ramping up efforts to shrink their real estate footprints, according to new research from commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

It notes that in recent years a rising number of law firms have cut their bricks-and-mortar office space as a way to reduce costs and better meet the workplace needs of their lawyers. COVID-19 has now increased the desire of firms to revamp the designs of their offices as part of broader changes to their overall operations.

In the Cushman & Wakefield report, Bright Insight: The 2020 National Legal Sector Benchmark Survey Results, it is reported that more than half of the respondents in a poll expected the size of their firm’s real estate portfolio to shrink more than 10 per cent in response to COVID-19. Currently, most law firms spend 4 per cent to 14 per cent of revenue on office space. In light of positive experiences with remote working, many have begun downsizing or are planning to soon. According to the survey, only 20 per cent of respondents expect no pandemic-related changes to their firm’s real estate portfolio, with the remainder expecting some reduction in office space.

The report follows Bloomberg Law’s Legal Technology Survey (2020), which shows that 84 per cent of law firm respondents said their organisations had at least three-quarters of staff work remotely after March 2020, and a large majority (86 per cent) of law firm respondents expect that work-from-home options will continue after the pandemic ends. Even more of those at law firms (88 per cent) want work from home to be an option post-pandemic.

Baker McKenzie tops client poll for 11th year

Baker McKenzie has kept its No. 1 spot in terms of favourability from clients, according to the Thomson Reuters-Acritas 11th annual Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index.

The firm has held the title for 11 years in a row. Findings from Acritas reveal that during the COVID-19 pandemic clients have “gravitated” to their most trusted advisers and law firms. The index was this year compiled from more than 1500 interviews across 55 countries.

DLA Piper came in second, which was also its position in 2020, while Dentons rose eight places to take out third spot.  Linklaters came in fourth, and  Clifford Chance and Hogan Lovells were equal fifth. Other global firms with practices in Australia that made the top 20 were: Allen & Overy and Norton Rose Fulbright (equal seventh), Jones Day (equal ninth), King & Wood Mallesons (11th), Herbert Smith Freehills (12th) and White & Case (13th).