If you telecommute or work from home, you probably thought you were safe from having to get out of your jammies, apply some lipstick and brush your hair.
Well, not anymore. Welcome to the age of video conferencing technology, where your colleagues and clients can now see you when they call you to discuss those important legal documents.
So apart from the obvious downside of having to adhere to personal grooming when you work remotely, what are the main benefits of video chat and conferencing systems for lawyers, law firms and their clients?
1. Save Time
How much time do we waste in the car, stuck in slow moving traffic or on packed public transport, cramped in like sardines or crouched in the corner of the subway carriage near a sweaty, smelly commuter armpit?? (It’s OK, I hear you, all short people around the world)
With busy workers in cities like Sydney, London, LA and San Francisco battling traffic and crazy crowds daily, the argument for video technology is a compelling one. Oh, those hours we’ll never get back (unless of course you’re sitting in your car listening to a cool podcast or belting out some Tay Tay or Beyonce on your way to work. C’mon you know you do it).
Who wants to be stuck in a ‘jam jam’ when you can conference your client from the comfort of your home or office at your chosen hour? Let’s face it (pun intended), video meetings save valuable time which could be spent on productive tasks, billable work, business development or training. Big tick as a time saver.
2. Save Money
Travelling to and from client or legal offices costs money. Period. A quick video chat could save you and your client unnecessary flight, petrol, tolls or parking costs. It doesn’t mean you give up personal meetings altogether, you just choose wisely. You can save your travel budget for important face-to-face dates throughout the year.
3. Personalise Your Communications
“What we have here is failure to communicate,”
Yes we do, Captain. A phone call is fine but sometimes it really is nice to see the face of the person you’re talking in order to read their body language, watch hand gestures and check visual cues.
For lawyers, personalising communications with clients is important, especially as there is often a perception that lawyers are either aloof or inaccessible. According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the most frequently cited cause of dissatisfaction from a 2005 Massachusetts study surveying general counsels fell into the general description of poor communication with clients (with many other international studies, including an Australian study, reflecting similar results reported by clients). It is often not the result or even the cost of service that is most important to the clients but the quality of the lawyer/client relationship. Making your clients feel more connected is a definite win.
Of course, you may still want the option to sit in your sweats (or ‘trackies’ as the Aussie call them) and opt out of visuals for some meetings. Legaler’s new communication platform for lawyers gives you both an audio and video option. You won’t feel pressured to pop the video on but you can if you want to. And the same goes for your client!
4. Train, Teach and Learn
There’s no limit to what you can do with video conferencing tools and live chat technology – webinars, interviews, coaching, consulting sessions and the list goes on. Who you learn from is no longer limited to where you live or where you can physically travel to, opening up an array of options to find an awesome mentor overseas or tap into the knowledge and experience of a remote worker or industry expert.
In 2013, the NSW Department of Education in Australia published a blueprint for Rural and Remote Education, finding that students in rural areas underperformed in certain areas of education. According to the report, the opportunity for teachers and school leaders to access professional learning, work collaboratively and learn from each other is limited by distance and isolation and students experienced a lack of access to knowledge and resources. The report concluded that technology can assist in providing new ways to deliver curriculum breadth and options, as well as professional learning for staff.
Now, living in a rural area no longer means you’re stuck with what’s on offer at an annual function or conference in the nearby local hall and the ability to access to information has increased. You now have just as much opportunity to acquire knowledge as anyone in the big smoke with online forums, video meetings and chat facilities. The sky’s the limit.
5. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
According to George Mason University, driving to a meeting one hour away uses just as much electrical power as up to 1,000 hours of web conferencing. So in addition to cost-savings, your online video meetings may help reduce your firm’s carbon footprint. An environmental tick is always a win.
6. Improve Work/Life Balance
Who hasn’t had a cancelled flight, a late bus, a sick baby who is sent home from daycare or a crazy drive to work in a storm only to arrive to a work meeting or function late, frazzled, wet, tired and/or utterly pissed off? Using video chat can help you, your colleagues and your clients cut down on excessive travel which, in turn, can create better work/life balance and a lower burnout rate for everyone.
7. Connect Dispersed Employees
Dispersed law firm models are on the rise which means teleconferencing and video chat technologies are more important than ever. Busy, mobile lawyers need a reliable and easy way to communicate in disparate locations and video chat tools help employees in separate locales stay connected. You and your team can discuss your cases and business development activities in real time via a web conference.
Studies show that 79% of Americans say they’d like to work from home at least part of the time. In fact, telework in the US increased by nearly 80% from 2005 to 2012. You may want to offer staff the option of telecommuting from time to time to assist them with their work/life balance and family commitments. You’ll also be able to stay in touch with employees when they are out of the office.
Video tools and technologies offer firm owners the chance to retain valuable employees whilst saving on recruiting, retraining and expensive office space. You can recruit staff outside of your geographical area to widen the available talent pool and offer key employees flexibility in their working life.
So check out all of the available video platforms out there and jump on board the video train. (Of course, we think our platform is the coolest – it is designed just for lawyers which makes it custom made for you!).
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See you on the video screen!