Schillings tells lawyers to “come in two days a week” in agile working push

Schillings has told its lawyers to work just two days a week in the office as it rolls out a new agile working programme in the UK, The Lawyer can reveal.

Schillings COO and partner Christopher Mills said he introduced agile working as “by the end of next year, half of our staff won’t be lawyers”.

He added the firm needed to thinking flexibly about its working conditions to attract more cyber professionals and intelligence consultants. “In order to attract those people to work at a law firm we need to be a more modern facing business,” Mills continued.

The agile working scheme is voluntary, although Mills said 78 per cent of those able to use the scheme have already opted to take part.

It allows lawyers and some staff to decide how many days a week they want to come into the office. Mills said: “As a guidance, we’re suggesting people don’t need to be in the office more than two days a week.”

Staff are able to book desks for the days they want to work in the office through a “hot-desking technology platform”, he added.

“We want to create accidental meetings, so that every day you need to sit next to someone different both in terms of hierarchy and across the different disciplines.

“Ultimately it focuses people on results and performance rather than time and attendance. It’s up to individuals to get the work done to a high level of quality and to meet deadlines but in their own time.”

Although the programme is already live, it will not be officially finalised until the second week of September. The programme will not be open to paralegals, legal secretaries or client services staff, because these roles “require staff to be on premises”.

Agile working has soared in popularity among law firms in the last couple of years. Most recently Addleshaw Goddard rolled out agile working in its UK offices in July. White & Case introduced a similar policy in London in May, and Dentons made agile working available to its staff across the country in the same month. Mayer Brown also piloted agile working in April.

Mills said the key reason behind the new policy was to allow staff to have a “more balanced approach” to their work/life balance, and to drive more collaborative working between different divisions within Schillings, such as its cyber and intelligence staff and lawyers.

Last year, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills made agile working available to partners, joining Mishcon de Reya, Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Foot Anstey and DAC Beachcroft. Olswang has announced plans to introduce agile working and open plan by March 2017.