Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of people to start working from home. As inconvenient as this may have seemed, one of the biggest advantages of this practice was the fact that more industries were exposed to the concept of remote work than ever before.
No, remote work is not just for online tutors and digital marketers. In fact, last year, everyone from regular office workers all the way to specialists, like legal experts, were forced to work from home.
All the legal paperwork can be handled from home, especially seeing as how all the tools for work are now available in digital format. The research, preparation, and even mock trials can be done online, as well. Most importantly, legal consultations can be handled online (via Skype, Zoom, etc.).
Think about a whole new world of possibilities
This opens up a whole new world of possibilities. For instance:
- Lawyers fresh out of law school can start a low-cost practice from home
- Small law firms (with smaller office spaces) can keep a part of their workforce as remote
- Veteran lawyers (who have just had enough of office work) can migrate back home
Still, if you are to practice law from the comfort of your own home, you’ll need adequate working conditions. Here’s how you can make a quiet home office that’s just ideal for practicing law.
Benefits of Working from Home
A choice to work from home can be quite beneficial for your business model. There are three major advantages that should always be taken into consideration when making this decision. These are:
- Flexible work hours
- Saving time on the commute
- Better working conditions
The ability to split your workday should never be underestimated, seeing as how it can help your workflow immensely. It means that you can customize your workday, potentially even save your work-life balance.
The commute is a huge factor for a lot of people. Even if you live just 30 minutes away from your office, this still means wasting an hour every single day. If you work Monday-to-Friday, this is 5 hours every week. Naturally, this excludes all those unplanned (emergency) visits to your office in order to check something out.
Lastly, your work conditions depend on two things:
- Your ability to optimize the office
- The deal you strike with your family
The first is completely in your hands, while the latter requires negotiation. Fortunately, you, as a lawyer, have this skill in your job description.
Outfitting Your Home Office
The first thing you need to do is ensure that your home office is soundproof. For starters, you want the home office to occupy the most remote area of the house.
This means that you should, ideally, pick the area that is the furthest from the living room. If you have the option, choosing a room that’s facing the backyard (instead of facing the street) is highly advised.
Soundproofing is the key
The second thing you need to consider is the issue of soundproofing the room. Other than just adding some acoustic panels, you also need to consider installing a soundproof door. At the very least, you could consider applying a soundproof door seal.
The reason why this is so important (as well as such a big of an issue) is due to the fact that interior doors usually aren’t that thick or made from materials with impressive acoustic properties.
Making the floor soundproof, as well, should also be on your list. The simplest way to do this is to use rugs. When looking for the optimization of the volume level in your home office, planting a runner rug in the hallway (just outside of your home office) is even more effective.
This way, if anyone walks through the hallway during a conference call, chances are that this will go unnoticed.
Will You Meet Clients in Person?
Keep in mind that while we primarily focused on conference calls as your primary form of client consultations (in these conditions), this is definitely not your only choice.
You can also greet clients at your own home. If you aim to make the scenario less formal, you can meet them in the living room or even prepare a seating area in the backyard for them.
On the other hand, if you want to greet them in the home office, you need to prepare the area (in terms of additional seating furniture).
Downsides of owning a home office
Just keep in mind that this does have its downsides. Your family will have to do the part, this means adding extra costs to your home office project, and even then, the end result may not be the same.
Then again, you can always have both an actual office and home office, which you can use interchangeably (at your own behest). You can also take your clients out to the restaurant. While this may sound costly, it can help you make a great impression.
On top of that, when comparing the cost of this to the cost of paying a lease for a traditional office, it is still a more frugal option.
Keep in mind that the world around us is changing. Amidst the pandemic, we even had a surge in the number of online trials. This alone can completely change your perspective on this subject matter.
Talk to Your Family
If your family pays no attention to the fact that you’re currently working, there’s no amount of soundproofing that will give any effect. So, you need to start out by opening a round of negotiations.
First of all, like in any kind of negotiation process, you need to ask for something and offer something in return. This brings us to the flaw in one of the advantages that we’ve mentioned – flexible work hours. Sure, you can split your workday into 10 separate 40-minutes-long sections, but should you do this? Probably not.
Diplomacy at its finest
This is still their home, which means that they need to have a part of the day when they’re 100% free to act like it. Keep in mind that while you want something from them, you also need to ask for something in return. Just think about this as a part of the contract and try to be as specific as possible. Namely:
- Be specific about what they should and shouldn’t do
- Specify the time when this is supposed to take place
- Make sure that you offer something in return
For instance, after all of this, if a family member asks to be a host of their book club meeting or throw a party during the weekend, do you really have the moral and ethical right to say no?
Being fair is paramount.
In the end, it’s all circumstantial. Some families are easier to negotiate with. If you’re living on your own, these negotiations can be skipped in their entirety.
Then again, some homes don’t have enough space even without a home office. The key thing is that you customize your business model to match your own needs and preferences.