FWDay2018: Allens take a flexible approach to balancing work and life

With more than 70 percent of employees* anticipating a need to increase flexibility, Allens is experimenting with different flexibility options that balance clients' needs with those of employees.

With more than 70 percent of employees* anticipating a need to increase flexibility, Allens is experimenting with different flexibility options that balance clients’ needs with those of employees.

Recognising that flexibility boosts gender parity and employee engagement, Allens is actively looking for ways to encourage people to find ways to improve flexibility in their working day.

Head of Allens’ Banking and Finance (BaF) practice Tom Highnam said his group wanted to create a work environment that gave lawyers more control over their working schedules, so the partners in the group proposed a trial where everyone was asked to consider their flexibility options and find ways to put them into practice.

‘As it happened the pilot coincided with a very busy period for the group, but we were able to make a real difference to our lawyers’ feelings of well-being and role fulfilment without impacting on the high standard of client service we set for ourselves.

‘For some in the team flexibility means starting work later to avoid long commute times or go to the gym; for others, it was working remotely a day a week to better balance personal and work commitments. What we learnt was there is no one solution that suits all, everyone’s needs are different.’

Nick Adkins, BaF partner said breaking down the stigma of professional services firms being unable to offer flexibility to its staff is an important issue.

‘The perception of professional services firms is the stereotype of long hours in the office. In a transactional practice such as BaF, there are often demanding projects with tough deadlines but it is also important and possible to prioritise some flexibility in how time is managed. It is critical we do this to make the job sustainable and to retain our talented lawyers.

‘The pilot has shifted perception so people realise it’s about balancing available time and personal time and recognising the two can co-exist even in a busy, transactional practice.’ Nick said.

The BaF pilot encouraged people across the team to discuss arrangements within their smaller workgroups and everyone felt empowered to run their schedules. The pilot was based on the simple principles of common sense, trust and communication, which left a lot of room for flexibility in how people worked in a way that suited them best.

‘The whole experience was really worthwhile and we have now implemented flexible working as the norm within BaF and across many other teams,’ Tom said.

About Allens

Allens is an international law firm with offices throughout Australia and Asia. Through an integrated alliance with Linklaters, we offer clients access to an extensive network comprising 40 offices in 28 countries. Allens offers one of the most comprehensive legal networks in Australia and Asia.

We have been named Australian Law Firm of the Year in the Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards 2017 thanks to positive feedback from our clients. The award caps off a year of working with clients on some of Australia’s largest and most complex deals.

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