Big news from the world of Biglaw — well, at least if you care about work/life balance, it seems one firm cares too. (To be clear, you should care about work/life balance. Even if you’re hardcore Biglaw4Lyfe and scoff at the notion you’d show even a hint of weakness, you never know when burnout or other obligations will hit and then you too will enjoy some balance to your life.)
Biglaw behemoth Shearman & Sterling has just announced they are implementing an official policy allowing associates to work from home two days a month. Sure, two days a month isn’t going to radically alter anything, but it is a nice step forward. The policy is as follows:
Subject to the day-to-day needs of their respective practice groups, associates and counsel in good standing may work from locations outside of the office up to two (2) days per month; provided, that: (i) they are not needed to be physically in the office on the day(s) they choose to work remotely; (ii) their deal/case teams are informed in advance that they will be working remotely and the supervising partners on such teams have not objected to such arrangement; and (iii) they are actively working (and not just checking emails on a personal device, for example). It is the firm’s expectation that an associate or counsel working from outside of the office on a particular day will bill the same number of hours he or she would have billed in the office.
I’ve worked at jobs with the option to work from home on occasion, and, I have to say, it is a really nice perk. Deciding who is going to wait for the super to fix the dishwasher isn’t a fight between you and your spouse; you can get to your sister’s wedding a day early and avoid the panic when the flight scheduled to arrive 6 hours before the ceremony is delayed; meeting with your kid’s teacher doesn’t require a half day off, schlepping back and forth to the ‘burbs; and some days it is just nice to wear your pajamas all day long.
According to our tipster, the reaction has been pretty positive:
We just heard form the partnership that, along with boosting the Seamless budget, the firm is instituting a new work from home policy where associates can work from home two days a month. They are going to provide laser printers and scanners for every associate that wants one. These announcements came as part of a town hall meeting discussing a number of issues, but work-life balance and trying to increase associate satisfaction metrics were big issues at the meeting. From what I can tell the reaction from the associates is very positive.
And note, more than just pay lip service to a policy, the firm is backing it up with tech support. All associates and counsel can request a firm printer/scanner to assist in working from home. That shows real dedication to the concept of work/life balance, and it is refreshing to see leadership on the issue.
Read the full policy on the next page.
Earlier: Biglaw Firm Makes Big Joke Out Of Work/Life Balance