Herbert Smith Freehills makes agile working permanent after positive feedback

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has announced plans to implement agile working across all its London-based practice groups following the success of a trial initiative which began in March.

The plans will see the wider adoption of the firm’s ‘working smarter’ concept launched in 2012, which has been primarily used by the firm’s business services teams until now. In March the firm launched a three-month trial among a number of partners and fee-earners from each of the firm’s London office practice groups to encourage flexible working.

Participants in the trial, which saw them invited to work from home for up to one day a week, gave positive feedback on the scheme. The vast majority – 88 per cent – said the ability to work from home was “somewhat or very important” and 89 per cent reported improved work-life balance.

Of the participants three-quarters said flexible working enhanced their productivity, and only 3 per cent experienced negative responses from their teams or practice groups.

HSF said it would use the feedback to refine its procedures and enable it to maintain client service, as well as looking at how the firm could encourage global adoption of the scheme.

The ‘working smarter’ initiative is aimed at incorporating contractual flexible working as well as less formal agile working that gives people more control over when, how and where they work on an ad hoc basis.

HSF is one of a number of firms which is trying to encourage flexible working. Last week The Lawyer reported that West Country firm Foot Anstey is running a ‘warm-desking’ pilot in Bristol as part of a wider plan to embrace agile working. 

Clifford Chance’s London managing partner David Bickerton told The Lawyer he wants partners to lead flexible working, while Wedlake Bell is one of the smaller firms also looking at agile working. Meanwhile a host of firms are exploring hot-desking and open-plan spaces to make more out of the space they occupy.