Flexible working answers Vodafone’s staffing plight

Newbury-based Vodafone UK has expanded its flexible working programme for in-house lawyers as a means of coping with the drastic shortage of top-class talent.

The UK company’s legal department will be able to work either in London, Newbury or from home once the global organisation, Vodafone Group, moves into the City within the next two weeks.

“We have office space in London so our lawyers have the opportunity of working from there or home. In the future it will give us the benefit of having a wider pool of people from which to recruit,” said UK legal director Jonathan McCoy. Nine of the team’s 18 lawyers are expected to take up the hotdesking arrangement, including McCoy.

“We realised that this would enable us to recruit good-quality lawyers,” he added.

The competition for lawyers with two to four years’ post-qualification experience is fierce, as law firms and in-house groups struggle to come to terms with the M&A boom. Retention rates for newly qualified solicitors plummeted by up to 40 per cent at the height of the 2003 recession, leading to the current talent shortage.

Since he joined Vodafone UK in 2004, McCoy has boosted the number of lawyers commuting from London from two to nine.

Vodafone already allows these lawyers to work from home and expects them to commute to Newbury only once or twice a week.

McCoy said the initiative would give the company a greater presence in the City, where many of its clients are based. The new offices are at Shell-Mex House on the Strand.