As the UK and many other countries move back into a national lockdown, the modus operandi for many businesses will continue to be ‘home’ or ‘remote’ working. Whilst the global move to remote working has been an unprecedented challenge, the change has been viewed as a positive move by many businesses. According to a survey conducted by KRC Research and Boston Consulting Group, “40% of managers report that productivity has actually increased among their remote workforce”.
The IP industry has been no exception to the changes. Despite its proud heritage and traditional ways of working, many IP practices have adeptly moved to temporary remote working. In recent years, we have seen a change to how practices operate, with some firms introducing flexible job opportunities as a benefit to employees, with much success. These forward-thinking firms have thus positioned themselves to respond quickly to government mandates and efficiently move all staff to a completely remote working culture. As a result, these firms have been able to look to their longer-term recruitment plans and reap the benefits of attracting and retaining talent under these circumstances.
Flexibility, in terms of hours and place of work, is increasingly becoming an attractive employee benefit across many sectors. It allows firms to attract more diverse candidates and unique skill sets, without the constraints of finding candidates willing to commute to a particular area and be physically present for designated office hours, increasing their talent pool. Also, as firms look to reopen their office spaces in the future, we may see more businesses going towards a hybrid working model, by offering roles with a mix of ‘work from home’ and ‘office based’ days, helping businesses revaluate expensive city office locations and reduce costs.
Through our conversations with candidates, flexible working and remote working are currently the most important considerations, alongside remuneration. Further to this, discussions with IP professionals from both in-house and patent and trademark firms has revealed that most businesses will maintain a form of flexible working moving forward.
Therefore, as we move from mandated remote working into an eventual post-lockdown world, we need to use the hybrid working model effectively, and to the benefit of all staff. The genuine offer of flexible working opportunities will need to be supported by the whole firm. Employees should not feel the need to justify their decision to work from home, or in the office if they prefer, on a particular day if flexibility is available to them. Also, flexible working should be offered to all members of the firm fairly, and not only given to a select few, with productivity measured by results and not ‘time in seat’.
From recent conversations with our clients in private practice it has been noted that trainees entering the profession need a more ‘hands-on’ approach to help nurture their development and to gain a good understanding on the unique culture of the firm. Our in-house IP clients want to continue to have a presence on site to enable effective relationships to be built both within the team and throughout the business. Using a hybrid working model effectively would take this into consideration and be advantageous for helping staff to do the essential networking and training for their career in person, whilst also allowing the time for quieter, more focused work which could be done effectively in a remote environment.
The culture of every firm is unique, and therefore creating a cohesive environment, which includes mutually advantageous working practices, is not just good for employee satisfaction and retention but for ensuring a successful future for your business.
If you are looking to develop your business, we would love to help. Whether you are looking for your next career opportunity, help expanding your team, or assistance with mergers and acquisitions, contact us today for a confidential discussion.