The future of meetings
It's been hard to escape the talk online this month about meetings: whether we should shorten them, change their structure or even ban them altogether. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed this topic at the forefront of workplace discussions and forced companies to adjust to novel ways of working. Anyone who's worked in the legal world has undoubtedly sat in their fair share of meetings, but is banning them completely really the answer?
For an increasing number of people, the answer is a resounding yes. As messaging channels such as Slack and Microsoft Teams rocket in popularity, it's easy to see how the argument is constructed: combat Zoom fatigue, give people back their time, and use chat systems for efficient communication instead. Advocates for this way of working argue that we must allow for what's known as 'deep work' - solo time to complete tasks efficiently - something that cannot be done when our diaries are taken up with unnecessary 'face time'.
Finding a model that works
Others seek more of a middle ground, advocating for structured, succinct meetings rather than their complete absence. It's difficult to compromise in a way that everyone aligns with, particularly in a large company. In smaller set-ups such Level, however, the decision is left to the individuals. We've removed all obligations regarding meetings, providing the flexibility to our lawyers to decide how to communicate with each other.
Zoom or Teams meetings certainly aren't compulsory, but the nature of the firm (as a base for self-employed lawyers) means that there is often enthusiasm for face-to-face communication and collaboration. Meetings become less of a chore and more of an exciting means of sharing relevant updates, collaborating on projects or simply having a catch-up about the weekend.
That being said, gone are the team calls for the sake of team calls. The only regular meeting that every member of the team is invited to is our weekly social catch-up on a Friday, and it goes without saying, this is by no means compulsory. (Despite saying so, it often generates a big crowd, particularly if it includes a quiz!). For anything else, our lawyers are free to set-up their own chats whenever suits them, but we find that apps like Teams or Whatsapp can work just as well, if not better, for everyday communication.
It will be interesting to see how working patterns develop as we exit the pandemic. Level's model of flexibility means that each lawyer can continue to adapt in the way that works for them.