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POSITIVE STEPS TO RECOVERY WITH…… Freeths Oxford Managing Partner, Sarah Foster

1. We opened the office this week and although we have a capacity of 20%, it’s a great opportunity for me to get around and speak to everyone and find out how they are. We’ve found the majority of our staff are happy working, very productively might I add, from home, but for those that were ‘climbing the walls’ this has been a welcome opportunity to partially get back into the swing of things.

2. We’re very aware of the challenges our teams face, especially those juggling work and childcare, so our staff are under no pressure to come back to the office if they don’t want to. As I say, everyone is working just as well, if not better, from home than in the office so for us, if everyone’s safe and working productively, there’s no need to enforce any radical moves. The safety and wellbeing of our staff is always paramount.

3. Unlike many businesses, which is obviously very sad to say, we’re recruiting, especially in the family wealth team. With many families reviewing their affairs, the team is even busier than usual and so we are continuing to recruit wills, trusts and probate lawyers. Across the firm, we also continue to make senior level appointments where we have a business need. So positive news on the recruitment front.

4. A huge positive for me personally is learning more about my colleagues than I ever did face to face. We’re now invited into each other’s homes which personalises everything and actually normalises everything. I’m finding out more about what challenges my colleagues face, I’m meeting their children, their pets, their plants!! I’ve definitely forged more of a bond with staff than I did when we were in the office and that’s a huge positive.

5. We launched our very own magazine during lockdown which helped with communication and reassuring the team that the business was still operating as normally as possible. We ran a weekly feature on a senior partner where we all had to reveal ‘10 things you didn’t know about XYZ’. Mine included canoeing down the Zambezi and touching my nose with my tongue!

6. Lockdown has bought the whole firm together and it’s created more of a team spirit, revealing different personalities and allowing us to listen to our staff – in lots of different ways it has been very unsettling so although we can’t make things certain we can keep everyone informed and spirit has been incredible!

7. Exercise – as many people will know I’m a bit of a training addict having competed in a number of Ironman triathlons. I want to do another Ironman in Lanzarote next year, in fact I’ve already put my name down! Exercise is a key message we are pushing to the team to get some fresh air and learn to love the area in which we live.