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Physically Distant Advice

August 18, 2020

For many of our associates who are accustomed to sitting in conference rooms with their teams or discussing strategy over lunch, working remotely for an extended period of time can be challenging. To help our associates (and really all of us) stay engaged, our talent and coaching team is sharing a few strategies for building relationships, developing skills, and maintaining wellness in the remote environment.

Relationship Building

Developing and maintaining relationships in a remote environment is tough. The loss of spontaneous interactions (meeting on the way into the office, lunch meetings, afternoon coffee breaks, and so on) means associates have to be more proactive about staying connected. The upside is that most of us miss these opportunities to check in, and welcome the outreach.

  • Check in with mentors/mentees: Consider a “virtual coffee” to discuss current assignments, upcoming training opportunities, challenges, and more. These touch points will help maintain the relationship and allow for a continued focus on professional/career development.
  • The remote work environment is impacting people differently based on individual circumstances; consider a few small group (4-5 people) videoconferences to check in and share tips for working remotely. (You may even gain a few ideas to incorporate into your new routine!)
  • Think about your contacts outside the firm—have you had an opportunity to connect since commencing remote work? If not, consider checking in with your network to see how they are handling this new environment.

Professional/Career Development

Ongoing change and increased demands may cause a shift away from professional development. But making time to focus on individual career progression and skill development are important components to overall engagement and, ultimately, happiness.

  • With so much of the world changing to adjust to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there is an opportunity to work outside your practice area. Reach out to partners with whom you haven’t worked and offer to help.
  • Solicit feedback from supervising attorneys. Once you have completed an assignment, review the final work product to see their revisions and schedule time with the supervising attorney to debrief on the assignment. It’s important to learn and adapt.
  • Join groups and get involved in initiatives outside of your primary practice. If you have been thinking about getting more involved in the firm, now is the time. Involvement in industry groups, for example, is a great way to forge new connections, gain greater insight into the firm’s offerings, and increase your ability to serve clients.
  • Leverage a training and career coaching type resources. If you have been thinking about your long-term career goals and/or trying to navigate through a challenge in your practice management or remote working environment, schedule an introductory session to see how coaching might benefit your practice.

Maintaining Wellness

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the professional and personal demands of the remote working environment now that work is in our home and home is in our work. To help manage, it is important to keep your wellness front of mind.

  • When Morgan Lewis launched ML Well in 2019, the team didn’t imagine that the tips and tricks to support intellectual, physical, emotional, occupational, and community well-being would be so applicable in today’s environment. Many outside organizations also have resources to take care of your whole person.
  • Take time for yourself and your loved ones. Even though we are not able to travel to the destinations we may have planned, it is important to carve out time—and use your vacation time—to step away from work.
  • Replace your morning or afternoon commute time with an activity that’s not work related: exercising, reading, cooking, gardening, or another hobby. Since we no longer have that natural start/end to the workday, it’s important to step away and shift your mindset so that you can ultimately reengage.