As I write this I’m actually sitting in the office, at my desk which I have heavily personalised with a mini drum kit and Iron Man’s Jarvis interface as my desktop background, on a Sunday! Yes that’s right, I’m working on a Sunday! The sheer horror and travesty of it all! To be honest though it’s not all that bad. I occasionally choose to come in to the office at the weekend. I actually find I get quite a lot done in a short space of time because there are fewer distractions. I find I’m very focused because I don’t want to give over all of my free time to work and because I’m on my own I usually have some music on in the background. I’m not sure my colleagues would tolerate my choice of rock and metal as motivational work music Monday to Friday. Today I’ve decided to listen to Best of the Beast, a ‘best of’ Iron Maiden compilation album. But the fact that I do occasionally work at weekends does beg the question; are there enough hours in the day?
The short answer is yes, but allow me to tell you why you may think and feel otherwise…
I specialise in commercial property and my predominant focus is on Birmingham City Centre. Now, as I’m sure you know, there is a vast collection of national and international firms in Birmingham and they are all screaming out for commercial property solicitors. There are a number of reasons for this:
a) They’re all really busy and therefore need more people to handle workloads.
b) Because of ‘a)’ the present staff are having to put in longer hours.
c) ‘b)’ is actually not ideal and the problem needs to be addressed.
d) I am the solution to ‘c)’. Well not me personally but actually you, the commercial property solicitor looking for a new challenge/career progression/better quality of work and clients etc… you are the solution to all of the above.
One of the biggest fears I find in candidates is stepping into a practice with a ‘long hours culture’ and I actually find it quite difficult to address this. The reality is there are some practices where there is such a heavy workload that you’re going to put in longer hours. Now this doesn’t mean you’re staying in the office until midnight 5 days a week. It actually means that you may have to stay until 7pm instead of 6pm, you may have to take some work home with you or you may even have to occasionally give up some of your spare time at the weekend. None of this sounds very appealing does it? That’s because you probably feel that you already work very hard and perhaps you feel that this is enough? You’re right, your best is enough but sometimes your best becomes diluted by other things. We all have distractions both in and out of work. These distractions, whatever they may be and however big or small impact on productivity throughout the day. In my experience there are no two people who work in exactly the same way, because we’re human not robots! (Chantel Gallagher wrote a blog about robots, read it here. On top of this people have different drivers, different methods and different commitments which means you can only work certain hours and you honestly cannot work at weekends.
BCL Legal do not expect me to come into the office on a Sunday, I’m not even expected to work from home (I can’t at the moment because I broke my laptop…) and if I leave on time that’s fine. The reality is I am given the autonomy and responsibility to make the most of my job and to handle the workload I have set for myself. Within all of this is a fantastic support system throughout the business so that I can maintain my current career progression and then some. This is something I see being mirrored from many of our clients, both in private practice and in-house. You are important to the business you work for. Whether that’s a small local/regional firm, a large multinational or FTSE listed company; you’re important and valuable. More and more we’re seeing flexibility to accommodate people working different hours or even so much as being given a laptop so that you can work from home when needed. There are enough hours in the day if all you do is work work work, but the reality is you can’t predict your day down to the minute or the hour perfectly so you simply may not get everything done.
It may be that you need a change of environment, you may need a better support structure. Every day BCL Legal are assisting lawyers across the country, from paralegals all the way through to directors and partners, in finding that right opportunity and right environment where you can thrive and take that next exciting step in your career. We’ll even tell you who is most likely to offer more flexible hours… So get in touch!