In March 2020, in response to needs arising from the Covid-19 health crisis, through the Home Working Network, Brightlink and Heroes partnered to offer free support to those facing changes to the way they worked.
We have been joined in the network by a wide array of professionals across sectors and with differing seniority, skills and experience. This has brought something very special to the group wisdom that is benefitting all of us who participate.
What have we discovered?
Thus far we have met with psychotherapists, teachers, business owners and leaders, youth justice workers, charity leaders and lawyers. This makes for a rich and resourceful connectivity which shows signs of lasting well beyond the current situation with wonderful business and support connections and great cross pollination of ideas that law firms will benefit from.
This ongoing service, including twice weekly online meetings and a social media group, compliments Brightlink’s work with law students and their employers all over the world.
It gives us insights into needs, thoughts and feelings in the legal sector in relation to training and day-to-day work.
On Mondays during our check in hour, I lead the group through some planning and preparation. On a Friday Tammi Owen, from Heroes helps us leave the week behind and set boundaries between work and personal time to keep us well and as productive as it’s possible to be while staying safe and healthy.
In the online meetings and in our social media group, we share conversation and challenges and we also share some very practical tips and tools.
One of the legal employers who supports a member of their team to study with Brightlink has withdrawn their offer to cover costs, however many continue to sponsor the learning of their employees. An employer called us just this week to check if we’re still working and told us that they see it as even more vital to support development for their team now, to keep them engaged and progressing. We’re privileged to be able to continue to work hard in the same way we always work to support lawyers at this time. We had a head start on working remotely yet very closely, building and nurturing excellent relationships even at physical distance.
When we speak with lawyers of all types about their day to day work and the challenges they face they’re telling us these are some of the challenges they faced when changes first started for them as compared to the challenges they’re facing now:
Challenges in week 1
- Limited/ non-functional/ out of date hardware and software to work from home
- Lack of tech knowledge to use software/ systems
- Missing human contact
- Letting people know that it’s business as usual to keep business coming in
- Helping children understand and be well
- Managing interruptions
- Finding time and peace to work
- Fear of being forced to work outside of home
- Teaching people to use apps like Zoom
- Taking care of elderly relatives
- Preparing teaching materials for home schooling
- Managing expectations of others, family, clients and employers
- Not going outside
- Keeping children interested and entertained
- Concern for team members who are quiet and being overlooked
- Working from home during the Easter break with children around
- Fitting everything in
- Imposter syndrome
- Finding space
- Risk management
- Supporting clients and colleagues
What are individuals looking for?
Most law students who are already studying for CILEx qualifications with Brightlink are picking up additional units of study. They tell us they are making the most of deferred examination dates and time they’re saving on their commutes to study more and place themselves in the best possible position for recruitment or promotion in the future.
We have increased enquiries from law graduates and undergraduates, who can use the time they had expected to spend at University to complete the CILEx Graduate Fast Track Diploma and give themselves many more options in the legal workforce in late 2020, 2021 and beyond.
While it’s true that employers in some instances are still supporting accredited study, for the most part are not engaging in bite sized CPD. They are preferring to wait or in some instances to book but defer the actual course until it can be done in person rather than online.
Demand for services we offer to support teams and their communication, planning, self-care, peer and line management supervision with therapeutic and HR insights, have increased as may be expected and people are seeking out our long term expertise in distance and online working to ensure this is done sensitively and correctly during home working.
These insights may not be technical or uniquely legal but they are based around fundamental human needs and it is important we recognise and acknowledge the challenges people are facing in order that we can begin to meet those challenges together and wherever possible, to overcome them.
This will be important to get through what remains of the lockdown phase and to bring teams back together from home working or furlough.