Our Family Team’s experiences of Lockdown
24 April 2020 by Marketing Team
On 23rd March 2020 our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, tightened measures which require people to stay at home – the UK went into lockdown.
Our IT team acted swiftly and efficiently to enable the whole family team to pick up their entire workstations and take them home – this includes office chairs for some!
Some of the members in our family team wanted to share their experience of lockdown with you.
Lisa O’Boyle – Solicitor
I am all set up in my dining room with my laptop and headphones. I have even brought my desk plants home!
Working from home was a little strange to start with but I feel that I have adapted much quicker than I had expected. I am able to access all my files electronically, which I do when I work from the office anyway. I usually like to read lengthier documents in print but have found that it is just as easy reading these from my computer as long as I zoom to a larger font.
The main difference is not seeing clients and colleagues face to face. I do miss the social element of seeing people face to face, but I do not feel it is having a negative impact on my work as, instead, I am regularly emailing, video calling (using Microsoft Teams) and telephoning.
My partner, who I live with, is himself set up in our second bedroom upstairs, so we cannot overhear each other, and any conversations I have remain strictly confidential.
I have been keeping up to date with the implications of lockdown and Covid-19 measures on Family Law and have written blogs to share the knowledge. I hope clients, prospective clients, and fellow professionals may find these useful. My blogs on child arrangements can be found here and here and my blog on domestic abuse can be found here.
Most of my family lives in France so video calling them is usual for me. I miss spending time with my in-laws (including the dogs) who live locally. To keep busy in my spare time I try to do yoga every day and Joe Wicks workouts at the weekend. I also bake, watch Netflix, ‘Hinch’ around my house. I am learning how to knit and I have just started a puzzle. I am not bored (yet).
Aimee Edwards – Trainee Solicitor
I am a trainee solicitor so I am at the start of what I hope to be a long and successful career in the legal profession.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought upon us a “new normal”, where I work and socialise from the comfort of my own home. For work, this means I take telephone calls via a headset linked to my computer and I aim to deal with everything electronically rather than in print.
The bonuses of working from home mean that I am writing this blog in much more comfortable clothes than I would be if I were in the office, I get an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning and I am no longer spending time commuting. Instead, I spend an hour a day discovering new walking routes. However, my home office, although comfortable, is far from the work environment I know and love.
As a trainee, learning from other solicitors, especially those with many years of experience, is vital. Now that I am working from home it makes it harder to do that because there are no “off the cuff” debates and discussions about cases. Everything has to be scheduled in the diary.
Now that I am working remotely I find it more difficult to see who in my team needs an extra hand. I try to make sure that, where I can, I video call colleagues rather than email. Those quick 5 minute catch up calls throughout the week are so important now.
On the social side, lockdown has meant the garden fence has already had a new lick of paint and my paintbrush is ready to tackle the spare bedroom next. My partner and I have finally started a veg patch and instead of going out for dinner on the weekend we try new recipes and end the night playing card games – we are both competitive so it is never a boring game.
Precious Yilmaz – Paralegal
I am a paralegal, so I am very much at the start of my legal career.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives, particularly the way in which we would normally work. My experience of remote working has been positive (so far). I set up my ‘office’ in my dining room. My dining room leads out to the garden, so I get to enjoy a lovely view of the nice spring weather that we have been having whilst I work.
Working remotely has certainly changed the way in which I would normally work. I now aim to deal with everything electronically, a change that we have all embraced. Our team has been equipped with headsets to allow us to make and receive calls. We introduced Microsoft Teams a few weeks before the lockdown occurred. This has allowed our team to continue to have ‘face to face’ contact with clients and with one another. I think it helps to see a smiling face, to remind each other we are there for support and that we are all adapting to this new way of working.
Working from home has its advantages. I now enjoy a one-minute morning commute from my bedroom, down the stairs, and into my ‘office’ in the dining room and there is certainly a novelty that comes with not having to dress professionally (or at least from the waist down) every day.
I am finding it difficult, as a paralegal who is still learning, to no longer be able to simply turn around to my colleagues to quickly ask a question, or to have a quick discussion about a matter as everything is now done via email, telephone or video call.
I am currently studying the Legal Practice Course combined with a Masters degree which keeps me busy in my spare time. Outside of working and studying, I enjoy spending time with my friends. Instead of going out for dinner and drinks like we normally would on the weekend, we video call and enjoy catch up over a drink together.
Simon Osborn – Solicitor/ Partner
I was in Tenerife when the Spanish Government introduced their lockdown on 15th March 2020. This was much more severe than the lockdown which has been implemented in the UK. People are only allowed to go out to buy food and obtain medical treatment or medicines. Children were not allowed out, although dog walking was allowed. The lockdown was rigorously enforced by the Spanish Police and the Guardia Civil who regularly patrolled the streets, sometimes with loudspeaker messages, and used drones and helicopters to ensure compliance.
On my return to the UK, my firm decided that I should work from home to avoid any potential risk to work colleagues and clients, so I have been adapting to this arrangement since 18th March 2020.
Fortunately, as a firm, we already use a lot of the IT solutions which are essential when the majority of our staff are working from home. We also have an exceptional IT team who were able to ensure that the vast majority of our staff were set up and working from home within a very short period of time.
The use of electronic case management systems, an internet-based telephone system and digital dictation, as well as video conferencing means that we are able to carry on very much as usual. Naturally, everybody misses the day to day interaction of working in a busy office with their colleagues around them. We have a “flat” team structure which means everybody works collaboratively on cases and shares ideas and experiences across the team. We had already adopted Microsoft Teams before the lockdown was introduced, and this has proved invaluable in holding virtual team meetings within the team to ensure that everybody continues to feel involved and can easily exchange ideas and experiences, as well as maintaining social interaction between team members.
Meetings with clients are conducted over the telephone or using video links. One of the pleasures of our work is building relationships with our clients to assist them in resolving their problems. It has been surprisingly easy to adapt to this new way of working.
It is certain that the experiences and skills that we are learning during this period of lockdown will affect the way in which we deliver our services to our clients in future and the way in which we interact with other organisations, such as the courts, where telephone hearings are becoming the norm.
On the personal side, as well as supporting those working in the NHS and vulnerable members of society by social distancing, I feel we should all help by taking responsibility for our own health and fitness, so that we are in the best possible place to overcome Covid-19, as it seems that most of us will be affected by it, to varying degrees. So I have dusted off my trainers and rediscovered the joys of running again. Only in a modest way up to 5k, but it all helps.
This is an uncertain and worrying time for everyone. The whole family team at FJG are working hard to make sure clients still have access to legal advice. Solicitors and support staff are set up to work remotely so your calls will be answered and telephone appointments can be made. The Family Team has been blogging to keep clients, prospective clients and other professionals updated about key changes. We offer our initial £99.00 fixed fee advice for people to discuss their problems with our solicitors and to find out where they stand as a telephone appointment, and we are taking ID and collecting other information we need electronically. We are all in this together and the Family Team at FJG are still here for you – call 01206 700113 or email [email protected].
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