The City is returning to life for the first time in over a year, as firms reopen offices and test their revised flexible working policies.

Solicitors at Allen & Overy, Fieldfisher, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Macfarlanes, and Slaughter and May are now working in person at least three days a week, and staff have reported significantly busier offices.

Slaughter and May trainees – together with new joiners and newly promoted employees – are allowed just one day of homeworking a week, and some practices have introduced ‘all hands days’, when everyone from a department is expected to come in.

Many Covid measures are still in place, however, with Hogan Lovells saying that lateral flow tests are available to collect from the office, and that desk screens, increased ventilation, and regular deep cleaning will be in place for the foreseeable future.

Some firms are taking a more lenient approach to staff attendance. Irwin Mitchell – which is still operating its offices at around 50% capacity – has not specified a set number of days that staff must work in person.

Mishcon de Reya has adopted a similar approach, while Shoosmiths, which recently took on a significantly larger office in London, said it will focus on ‘output and performance, not where or when people work.

Use of tech takes precedence over use of floorspace’.

However, Shoosmiths said it has noticed an ‘uptick’ in the number of staff attending its offices. Louise Hadland, interim chief operating officer, said: ‘Teams have been asked to consider what hybrid working patterns would work for them in acknowledgment that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not appropriate for our business.’

According to research by legal publisher Thomson Reuters, fewer than one in 10 lawyers want to return to working in the office full-time. The study found that 63% of lawyers are requesting flexible arrangements, compared with 22% before the pandemic hit. On average, lawyers would like to spend 2.1 days a week working remotely.