Striking a balance between your wellbeing and commercial success means learning how to work smarter and carve out time for your own mental and physical health. There are only 24 hours in a day – use them wisely and you’ll reap the rewards, both financially and emotionally.
By Eric Schurke, CEO (customer contact solutions)
The statement I hear most from clients is, “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” which is a particularly common refrain from our hundreds of legal clients across the U.S., and especially true among those specializing in family law. These legal professionals have seen their workload increase recently, in particular, due to the stresses and strains caused by the long lockdowns.
There’s no doubt the pandemic has exacerbated time pressures given the increase in “e-presenteeism” that has come with remote working. The shift in consumer communications with its “always on” expectations and the commercial pressure to “bounce back” and capitalize on post-lockdown booms has presented a multi-pronged threat, and it’s leaving many family lawyers stressed and burned out.
Among our own staff as well as our clients, I’ve seen an urgent need for long-term changes to promote and protect workplace wellbeing. But, it’s a difficult balance to maintain the client experience and still grow a business when you can’t work any harder or cram more hours into a day. Here are some tips family practices can use to work smarter:
6 Ways to Work Smarter and Feel Better
1. Know When to be Unavailable
Sometimes you need to be “out” in order to get work done. This feels counterintuitive when client demand is high and the new clients keep coming, but you truly can’t do it all. Before each week begins, review your agenda and consider what time slots each day or week can be reserved for focused work or thinking time. Notify your in-house or outsourced switchboard teams that you’re not to be disturbed so they can pick up your calls, take messages and, with a careful briefing, actively manage new inquiries while you’re getting on with other things, and can then return calls when you’re free. A University of California Irvine study showed it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after an interruption, so minimizing those automatically helps you add precious time to your day.
2. Don’t Be Limited by 9 to 5
I know family lawyers get calls from clients at all times of the day, especially when stress levels are high ahead of court dates. In the 24/7 age, consumers do not feel the constraints of traditional 9 to 5 office hours and will reach out to professionals any time, day or night. Smartphones have placed the research process in the palm of their hand, giving them the means to contact professional service providers at all hours from anywhere. This is where outsourced call and live chat handling can really help, eliminating the worry of providing round-the-clock in-house resources. This means you can offer a consistent 24/7 service using your preferred channels, staffed by highly trained communication handlers acting on your behalf. This outsourced team can also be speaking to new clients and potentially winning new work while you and the rest of your team sleep.
3. Make Your Website Work Harder to Free Up Your Time
Make your website more useful for clients and prospects, saving time required from your in-house team. For example, a well-timed live chat pop-up can help turn website visitors into potential new clients, answer FAQs, and capture information so when you do pick up the phone, it’s a pre-qualified lead. This can also help to reduce phone traffic, meaning fewer noisy distractions. Use of live chat has doubled since the pandemic because consumers love its instant nature and the perception that it is anonymous. We also find that customers tend to offer more personal information through it as a medium than through any other marketing channel. This presents an opportunity to speed up communications, improving efficiency.
4. Delegate Proactivity
In my experience, tasks such as warming up leads, booking appointments, and checking customer satisfaction are an important part of the sales, lead-nurturing, and client management process, but they often fall by the wayside when teams are busy. Use the support of others or outsource those functions to free up your time, enabling you to speak to more clients proactively and ensure they feel valued.
5. Invest in Staff Wellbeing
Companies are having to work harder to maintain staff well-being, especially if regular staff contact has been reduced through remote work arrangements during the pandemic. If you are a business leader, you should look at what you are offering your staff in terms of wellbeing support, and if you are a team member you should be asking for it. For example, at Moneypenny, we offer a free mental health support line that our staff can call at any time. We’ve found that small gestures of kindness have big impacts on our employees’ mental wellbeing. Additionally, we have an in-house video team that puts together specially designed videos with birthday messages for staff, and provide daily yoga and meditation classes. We also have offered nutrition classes and cooking tips, all measures that in our experience have helped maintain staff happiness. On a more informal level, you can also share good news when business is going well, then take time to celebrate, with things like pizza lunches, chocolate brownies, or bottles of wine sent to staff working at home.
6. Reinvent Your Office
Take a long hard look at your office and whether it really is a comfortable environment conducive for your family practice. We recently published a report on what office and working practices will look like in the future, researched and put together by Generations Expert Dr. Eliza Filby. This included predictions that the office will no longer be a play-zone designed to keep you there for as long as possible, instead of serving as a cross between a private members’ club and university campus, geared for interaction, learning, and concentration. It will be available as a hub for however many days a week staff want it, and will support the hybrid working trend in which staff combines some days in the office with some working from home.
When you feel in control of your workload, you are more productive and, typically, happier. Striking a balance between your wellbeing, commercial success, and loyal clients is the only way to future-proof business and protect mental health in a post-pandemic around-the-clock world. There are only 24 hours in a day – use them wisely and you’ll reap the rewards, both financially and emotionally.
Eric Schurke is the CEO of Moneypenny Group in North America, the world’s leading provider of telephone answering, outsourced switchboard, live chat, and customer contact solutions, handling over 20 million calls and live chats for 21,000 businesses, many of them legal companies. www.moneypenny.com/us
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