Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the latest City practice to allow solicitors to work from home up to half of the time once lockdown has been lifted.
The magic circle firm has announced a new agile working policy in its London and Manchester offices following feedback from staff. The post-lockdown policy will allow UK staff to work remotely up to 50% of the time, provided that arrangements take account of client and business commitments.
Freshfields said the policy is an ‘interim approach’ and that team and client preferences may change once offices reopen.
Claire Wills, London office managing partner, said: ‘Our guidance follows feedback from colleagues who signalled a clear preference for more flexibility but also recognises the importance of in-person interaction to our culture, personal development and client engagement.’
Olivia Balson, director of the firm's ‘global centre’ in Manchester, added: ‘We still see the office location for the global centre in Manchester as holding an important role in our connections, our collaboration, development and innovation. At the same time, we strongly believe in the value of a balance between remote and office-based working.’
Freshfields, which moved to a new 255,000-square-foot office last year, is one of several City firms to embrace home working. Linklaters announced last summer that employees across the world will be able to work remotely between 20-50% of the time, as long as teams are told in advance and operational roles are fulfilled.
Similarly, partners and staff at Norton Rose Fulbright can choose to work up to 50% from home under a new hybrid working policy.
However, commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield said desire to return to the office has significantly increased during the latest lockdown.
Speaking at a Professional Practices Alliance webinar, C&W partner James Campbell said: ‘One of the huge problems in the real estate industry is that people will over-simplify how they use their real estate going forward. The reality is in 12 or 24 months’ time, when we get to the new normal, they will say ‘actually we probably needed more space.’