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Positive steps with Ben Filmer of Freeths

Team Working. At first, it felt like a big change that we were no longer going to be in an office environment with colleagues in shouting distance for any queries. However, it now feels like usual service has been resumed as we pick up with colleagues who, via Microsoft Teams, are back in virtual shouting distance.

As a team, we have a daily call which allows us all to keep in contact about work, even if we are not speaking one-to-one. We have become comfortable and efficient with virtual contact for work and in sustaining the camaraderie we would typically get in the office. Being able to re-create the ‘water cooler’ chat has been great as we speak about what we have all been up to at home with family and friends and particularly what our running results are as we all strive to better one another’s 5km time!

Training. As a firm, we have continued to deliver training (both internally and externally) during Covid-19. With sessions delivered online and relevant materials circulated by email, it is easier than ever to keep up to date with both commercial and legal developments.

Flexibility for Clients. In many ways the move to virtual meetings and remote working has been a major benefit for clients. Instead of having to block out days to travel and meet, we can work more flexibly around a client’s schedule to arrange virtual meetings (and re-schedule where needed). I also find that we are able to condense a remote meeting to make the most efficient use of the time available.

Remote working has also driven a need for changes in practical processes within the profession which the firm has embraced. We are now seeing a move towards electronic signing where it is appropriate. Similarly, our team is always working to adopt new processes to better adapt to the needs of our clients especially in light of the move to remote working.

Socialising. The firm has been very active in promoting various social activities which have made lock-down much more enjoyable. We have regular office and team virtual quizzes as well as an office book club which has proved to be particularly engrossing. These have been novel and effective opportunities to continue developing relationships with colleagues. Personally, I have really enjoyed the book club as an opportunity to read books I would not necessarily have considered before. It has led to some lively discussion with co-workers about a surprising range of topics.

Work Life Balance. Work/Life balance when home-working has been a very different challenge and one I’ve embraced. As a keen runner and cyclist, home-working has given me the opportunity to get outdoors and get more training under my belt. It is much easier to duck out for a lunch run or ride when all of my kit is available in another room, rather than it still being in that room while I am in the office! My housemate also kindly got involved in my running, even going as far as to make me an ‘official’ tinfoil medal when I ran my own lock-down half marathon around Oxford.

I have also really enjoyed cooking more fresh meals as a replacement for the lunchtime ‘meal deal’ and I am just finishing a month as a pescatarian in a bid to push myself to cook new dishes.