Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

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Anon115523

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by Anon115523 » Sun May 10, 2020 8:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 6:55 pm
Anon115523 wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 6:05 pm
jarofsoup wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 5:10 pm
So do you get an impression that folks in like atlanta and Texas are going back like next week?
I'd be shocked if private entities, such as law firms, take the bait on "opening the country" and agree to go back to normal b/c some Republican governor wants praise from Trump. It's not going to be realistic to go back to work until at least the end of the summer--nevertheless, southern states persist.

Let the people dumb enough to risk their lives to get a haircut and a loaf of bread because they want to own the libs go out--I think firms are going to see through this and stay closed down as long as firms in CA/NY.
Law firms and corporate America will follow what the rest of the "market" is doing in their area. If everything else opens up they will too. Also not sure why you are lumping CA in with NY, other than politics they are in completely different situations.
"Other than politics" yes, they are in completely different situations. But including politics, they are both not beholden to MAGA bros and feeling any pressure to open up prematurely, which is really the whole game at this point. CA and NY are going to be on the same timeline as any blue state--behind red states when it comes to opening up b/c the coronavirus has become political at this point. Saying "other than politics" is (sadly) removing the most important aspect of the equation for the calculus as to when to reopen.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by cisscum » Sun May 10, 2020 8:18 pm

I disagree. There will be immense pressure to open up California due to the minimal impact that the virus has had. It will take time but the government will eventually have to respond to how their citizens act. The people who have been flooding the beaches aren't all MAGA bros (I'm talking about the beaches, not the protests). Also, your chances of contracting the virus when commuting is minimal if you're just driving from your house to work. So then the question becomes the following: If biglaw can be done 100% remotely, why did we have offices in the first place? If it's just because the partners want facetime with their employees, that will have to be weighed against the health risks. The ironic thing is that the partners are the ones at risk of having complications from the virus, not the associates. So are they willing to take their chances?

In any case, it's ridiculous to think that California and New York would be on the same timeline when the virus has had a completely different impact on those two states.
Last edited by QContinuum on Mon May 11, 2020 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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jarofsoup

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by jarofsoup » Sun May 10, 2020 10:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 8:18 pm
I disagree. There will be immense pressure to open up California due to the minimal impact that the virus has had. It will take time but the government will eventually have to respond to how their citizens act. The people who have been flooding the beaches aren't all MAGA bros (I'm talking about the beaches, not the protests). Also, your chances of contracting the virus when commuting is minimal if you're just driving from your house to work. So then the question becomes the following: If biglaw can be done 100% remotely, why did we have offices in the first place? If it's just because the partners want facetime with their employees, that will have to be weighed against the health risks. The ironic thing is that the partners are the ones at risk of having complications from the virus, not the associates. So are they willing to take their chances?

In any case, it's ridiculous to think that California and New York would be on the same timeline when the virus has had a completely different impact on those two states.

I don’t think the law firms will take chances and there are liability issues associated with asking people to come in and risking getting sick. New York City I presume will be the last to open.

Also it is not true that younger adults have not had bad outcomes. Also there is support staff that have increased risk as well. Your secretary or paralegal is a human too..

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by cisscum » Sun May 10, 2020 10:51 pm

jarofsoup wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 10:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 8:18 pm
I disagree. There will be immense pressure to open up California due to the minimal impact that the virus has had. It will take time but the government will eventually have to respond to how their citizens act. The people who have been flooding the beaches aren't all MAGA bros (I'm talking about the beaches, not the protests). Also, your chances of contracting the virus when commuting is minimal if you're just driving from your house to work. So then the question becomes the following: If biglaw can be done 100% remotely, why did we have offices in the first place? If it's just because the partners want facetime with their employees, that will have to be weighed against the health risks. The ironic thing is that the partners are the ones at risk of having complications from the virus, not the associates. So are they willing to take their chances?

In any case, it's ridiculous to think that California and New York would be on the same timeline when the virus has had a completely different impact on those two states.

I don’t think the law firms will take chances and there are liability issues associated with asking people to come in and risking getting sick. New York City I presume will be the last to open.

Also it is not true that younger adults have not had bad outcomes. Also there is support staff that have increased risk as well. Your secretary or paralegal is a human too..
Support staff aren't needed. At my firm secretaries (who are usually older) don't do shit, I assume it's the same everywhere else. All you need is IT and some paralegals, and they tend to be younger. Building staff is sometimes older but you can make special arrangements for them
Last edited by QContinuum on Mon May 11, 2020 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

jarofsoup

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by jarofsoup » Mon May 11, 2020 7:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 10:51 pm
jarofsoup wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 10:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 8:18 pm
I disagree. There will be immense pressure to open up California due to the minimal impact that the virus has had. It will take time but the government will eventually have to respond to how their citizens act. The people who have been flooding the beaches aren't all MAGA bros (I'm talking about the beaches, not the protests). Also, your chances of contracting the virus when commuting is minimal if you're just driving from your house to work. So then the question becomes the following: If biglaw can be done 100% remotely, why did we have offices in the first place? If it's just because the partners want facetime with their employees, that will have to be weighed against the health risks. The ironic thing is that the partners are the ones at risk of having complications from the virus, not the associates. So are they willing to take their chances?

In any case, it's ridiculous to think that California and New York would be on the same timeline when the virus has had a completely different impact on those two states.

I don’t think the law firms will take chances and there are liability issues associated with asking people to come in and risking getting sick. New York City I presume will be the last to open.

Also it is not true that younger adults have not had bad outcomes. Also there is support staff that have increased risk as well. Your secretary or paralegal is a human too..
Support staff aren't needed. At my firm secretaries (who are usually older) don't do shit, I assume it's the same everywhere else. All you need is IT and some paralegals, and they tend to be younger. Building staff is sometimes older but you can make special arrangements for them
So is this your political view? Should associates be forced to come in if they are afraid to get sick? What if they do get sick should the firm compensate them then if they are forced to come in? What if they have an underlying condition that puts them at higher risk?

I mean it does not make sense to say why have an office if you can work remotely. It’s a pandemic...

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cisscum

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by cisscum » Mon May 11, 2020 2:21 pm

jarofsoup wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 7:24 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 10:51 pm
jarofsoup wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 10:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 8:18 pm
I disagree. There will be immense pressure to open up California due to the minimal impact that the virus has had. It will take time but the government will eventually have to respond to how their citizens act. The people who have been flooding the beaches aren't all MAGA bros (I'm talking about the beaches, not the protests). Also, your chances of contracting the virus when commuting is minimal if you're just driving from your house to work. So then the question becomes the following: If biglaw can be done 100% remotely, why did we have offices in the first place? If it's just because the partners want facetime with their employees, that will have to be weighed against the health risks. The ironic thing is that the partners are the ones at risk of having complications from the virus, not the associates. So are they willing to take their chances?

In any case, it's ridiculous to think that California and New York would be on the same timeline when the virus has had a completely different impact on those two states.

I don’t think the law firms will take chances and there are liability issues associated with asking people to come in and risking getting sick. New York City I presume will be the last to open.

Also it is not true that younger adults have not had bad outcomes. Also there is support staff that have increased risk as well. Your secretary or paralegal is a human too..
Support staff aren't needed. At my firm secretaries (who are usually older) don't do shit, I assume it's the same everywhere else. All you need is IT and some paralegals, and they tend to be younger. Building staff is sometimes older but you can make special arrangements for them
So is this your political view? Should associates be forced to come in if they are afraid to get sick? What if they do get sick should the firm compensate them then if they are forced to come in? What if they have an underlying condition that puts them at higher risk?

I mean it does not make sense to say why have an office if you can work remotely. It’s a pandemic...
This is my guess at how partners are going think about reopenings. Since they are at higher risk from the virus, it's in their own self-interest to keep the offices closed, assuming they care about their own health more than boosting their egos by having associates around to kiss their ass in person. And yes I agree the liability issue is also a factor.
Last edited by QContinuum on Mon May 11, 2020 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 11, 2020 6:02 pm

Anon since dont want to be discovered by anyone who might pin my profile down. NYC. But I dont think my firm will be opening up any time soon. We have been told that we have a rotation system in place for when we do. They are supposedly communicating with other firms and we were told we "wouldnt be the first". They are considering potentially getting some kind of testing system into the firm in case we go back. But all just plans.

Honestly, while NYC should not be the first to open, given the rate of testing is so much higher than the rest of the country and given that like 1/10 NYers have already had the virus, and rates are now very steadily dropping. I don't see why NY wouldnt now start planning to maybe loosen restrictions for some kind of rotation over the next month. Honestly feels like it would be safer here than somewhere that is barely peaking and doesn't have more widespread tests (even if infection is slower). But I'm a copy&paste artist, not an epidemiologist.

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nealric

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by nealric » Tue May 12, 2020 1:37 pm

jarofsoup wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 5:10 pm
So do you get an impression that folks in like atlanta and Texas are going back like next week?
I don't think that's the case, at least not widely. My Texas F500 HQ office is doing a VERY soft reopening next week, but the vast majority of people will be working from home. The "soft" reopening will be less than 10% of the workforce and is really only for people who need physical access to specialized computing equipment (mostly IT folks and some select technical folks). They've already said that there will be a no questions asked work from home for quite some time for people who don't feel comfortable coming in. I'm guessing rank and file will be mostly work from home until well into the summer if not the beginning of fall.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by QContinuum » Tue May 12, 2020 5:07 pm

nealric wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 1:37 pm
I don't think that's the case, at least not widely. My Texas F500 HQ office is doing a VERY soft reopening next week, but the vast majority of people will be working from home. The "soft" reopening will be less than 10% of the workforce and is really only for people who need physical access to specialized computing equipment (mostly IT folks and some select technical folks). They've already said that there will be a no questions asked work from home for quite some time for people who don't feel comfortable coming in. I'm guessing rank and file will be mostly work from home until well into the summer if not the beginning of fall.
Is there any talk of spacing people out at the office, or did you guys already have private offices?

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TexasBigLaw

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by TexasBigLaw » Tue May 12, 2020 5:41 pm

My Texas v20 has told us not to expect to come back for many more weeks, likely early June at the soonest. Most of us are guessing June 6ish. We've had a skeleton support staff in for the past few weeks and the rest of the support staff is likely to go back on a rotating schedule sooner than the attorneys.

Technically there is nothing holding Dallas or Houston back from reopening, but infection numbers are still extremely high in the cities so thankfully most BL firms are doing the smart thing and staying closed.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by Excellent117 » Tue May 12, 2020 7:18 pm

TexasBigLaw wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:41 pm
the support staff is likely to go back on a rotating schedule sooner than the attorneys.
This is just horrible optics.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by RaceJudicata » Tue May 12, 2020 7:32 pm

Excellent117 wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 7:18 pm
TexasBigLaw wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:41 pm
the support staff is likely to go back on a rotating schedule sooner than the attorneys.
This is just horrible optics.
I hope mine doesn’t go back to the office anytime soon. S/he was terrible before remote working - slow, messed stuff up, couldn’t rely on him/her - but ever since they went remote, s/he has been fantastic. I think the change relates to them not being grumpy (and less exhausted) from dealing with commuting in/out of city as an older person.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 12, 2020 7:39 pm

I'm in a major non-NYC market and our office's managing partner said no one will likely be in the office before end of summer, and even when they are allowed back in, it'll be on a rotation schedule (split the office into 3 groups). He went on to say that even once the office reopens, working remotely is 100% okay and there are no expectations to come back into the office if (1) you don't feel safe or (2) it's more convenient to work from home. Without coming out and saying it, he implied that 100% remote work could be the norm, or at least optional, in the future.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by JusticeSquee » Tue May 12, 2020 9:11 pm

I wouldn't be too surprised if we were all back in the office by July 1.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by QContinuum » Tue May 12, 2020 9:31 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:11 pm
I wouldn't be too surprised if we were all back in the office by July 1.
I wouldn't be surprised if NYC offices are open by July 1. I would, however, be extremely surprised if lawyers (and support staff who can work remotely) are required to return to the office by July 1. I expect many associates to continue working remotely and I really don't see any big firm requiring them to do otherwise, until 1) COVID-19 vaccine or miracle cure comes out (remdesivir doesn't quite hit the "miracle cure" benchmark) or 2) we actually implement effective contact tracing and public health officials are confident there won't be a second wave. Even then I expect any restrictions on WFH to be implemented slowly, if at all. The last thing a big law firm wants is bad PR from forcing people who could work remotely to come into the office.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by JusticeSquee » Tue May 12, 2020 10:14 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:31 pm
JusticeSquee wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:11 pm
I wouldn't be too surprised if we were all back in the office by July 1.
I wouldn't be surprised if NYC offices are open by July 1. I would, however, be extremely surprised if lawyers (and support staff who can work remotely) are required to return to the office by July 1. I expect many associates to continue working remotely and I really don't see any big firm requiring them to do otherwise, until 1) COVID-19 vaccine or miracle cure comes out (remdesivir doesn't quite hit the "miracle cure" benchmark) or 2) we actually implement effective contact tracing and public health officials are confident there won't be a second wave. Even then I expect any restrictions on WFH to be implemented slowly, if at all. The last thing a big law firm wants is bad PR from forcing people who could work remotely to come into the office.
Honest question: were associates at any firm required to work in-office pre-rona? I'm at a NYC V10 and no one really batted an eye if you worked from home (I myself worked from home 2-3 days a week pre-rona, some friends did it much more frequently). So definitely agree that firms will not require associates to come into the office, although I was under the assumption that no requirement existed even before all this.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by nixy » Tue May 12, 2020 10:39 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 10:14 pm
Honest question: were associates at any firm required to work in-office pre-rona? I'm at a NYC V10 and no one really batted an eye if you worked from home (I myself worked from home 2-3 days a week pre-rona, some friends did it much more frequently). So definitely agree that firms will not require associates to come into the office, although I was under the assumption that no requirement existed even before all this.
I think this is not just firm-dependent but practice group- and even partner-dependent. I know lots of people work from home without issues, but I think there are still old school partners who expect face time. So even if the firm doesn't "require it," your personal work circumstances might, in practice if not in the letter of the law. I'm sure it's become less and less and I couldn't say what proportion of partners/practice groups still operate like this, but I don't think it's entirely gone. (Or at least before COVID, anyway, which I would imagine is going to be a death knell for facetime requirements.)

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by QContinuum » Tue May 12, 2020 11:28 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 10:14 pm
Honest question: were associates at any firm required to work in-office pre-rona? I'm at a NYC V10 and no one really batted an eye if you worked from home (I myself worked from home 2-3 days a week pre-rona, some friends did it much more frequently). So definitely agree that firms will not require associates to come into the office, although I was under the assumption that no requirement existed even before all this.
I'm aware of multiple V50s (and, yes, V10s) that officially required working in the office. I think enforcement was uneven - if you worked for partners who didn't care, then you were, in practice, fine to WFH - but the policies were there.

There are also multiple firms that didn't have an official policy, but had a de facto expectation for typically working in the office.

I actually enjoy working in the office so I can't wait until I can go back to doing so safely (no, I'm not going to rush back to the office on June 1st even if the office reopens then).

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by nealric » Wed May 13, 2020 9:04 am

QContinuum wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 5:07 pm
nealric wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 1:37 pm
I don't think that's the case, at least not widely. My Texas F500 HQ office is doing a VERY soft reopening next week, but the vast majority of people will be working from home. The "soft" reopening will be less than 10% of the workforce and is really only for people who need physical access to specialized computing equipment (mostly IT folks and some select technical folks). They've already said that there will be a no questions asked work from home for quite some time for people who don't feel comfortable coming in. I'm guessing rank and file will be mostly work from home until well into the summer if not the beginning of fall.
Is there any talk of spacing people out at the office, or did you guys already have private offices?
Private offices for most. Not sure what they are doing for departments that don't have private offices- probably something they are working on.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 13, 2020 12:06 pm

JusticeSquee wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 10:14 pm
QContinuum wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:31 pm
JusticeSquee wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 9:11 pm
I wouldn't be too surprised if we were all back in the office by July 1.
I wouldn't be surprised if NYC offices are open by July 1. I would, however, be extremely surprised if lawyers (and support staff who can work remotely) are required to return to the office by July 1. I expect many associates to continue working remotely and I really don't see any big firm requiring them to do otherwise, until 1) COVID-19 vaccine or miracle cure comes out (remdesivir doesn't quite hit the "miracle cure" benchmark) or 2) we actually implement effective contact tracing and public health officials are confident there won't be a second wave. Even then I expect any restrictions on WFH to be implemented slowly, if at all. The last thing a big law firm wants is bad PR from forcing people who could work remotely to come into the office.
Honest question: were associates at any firm required to work in-office pre-rona? I'm at a NYC V10 and no one really batted an eye if you worked from home (I myself worked from home 2-3 days a week pre-rona, some friends did it much more frequently). So definitely agree that firms will not require associates to come into the office, although I was under the assumption that no requirement existed even before all this.
Usually depends on practice group and the people you work with. Some groups have a setup where remote work is fine, others don't. For years, I worked in a group with an old-school partner at the helm. He was all about face time. He would rarely email, and wouldn't even do phone calls if we were both in office (the phone call would just be to ask me to swing by his office for the discussion itself). I'm not complaining since this partner was awesome and a great person to work with. But because he was old school on this issue, remote work was very much discouraged in my group. Whereas I had friends in other groups who worked from home multiple days a week, every single week.

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by HarrisonK » Wed May 13, 2020 3:42 pm

Possible NYC lawyers never return. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays say it is "highly unlikely" employees will ever return to their NYC offices. Additionally, Twitter is WFH forever. It may be coming to the legal industry sooner than we think.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/nyre ... -home.html

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by QContinuum » Wed May 13, 2020 4:56 pm

HarrisonK wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:42 pm
Possible NYC lawyers never return. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays say it is "highly unlikely" employees will ever return to their NYC offices. Additionally, Twitter is WFH forever. It may be coming to the legal industry sooner than we think.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/nyre ... -home.html
I agree that the number of people working in the office will never return to what it used to be. For years leading up to this pandemic, companies have prioritized saving rent dollars by packing workers ever more closely together. First the offices vanished in favor of cubicles. Then the cubicles vanished and it was assigned desks. Then even the assigned desks vanished, in favor of unassigned, first-come first-served desks and workstations, on the notion that there's always some fraction of the workforce that'll be out on any given day due to illness, vacation, etc.

Now everyone's terrified of these unassigned, open workspaces, and rightly so. There's zero social distancing and there's great concern over coming in and using the same keyboard and mouse someone else used earlier that day or the previous day. Companies are moving back toward assigned desks/cubicles at a minimum, and even then, assigned desks/cubicles didn't use to provide 6 feet of spacing between coworkers. Overnight, companies will be losing huge numbers of workstations due to social distancing and moving back to assigned desks/cubicles, and I don't foresee companies being willing to double their rent footprint to provide assigned, socially distanced desks to employees who can, at least in theory, WFH indefinitely.

But the fact of the matter is, top talent generally wants to work in the office. It's why companies have maintained offices in expensive cities like NYC and Silicon Valley and LA and Seattle to begin with. Employees that were easier to recruit/replace were relegated to cheaper offices in secondary cities - in Huntsville, AL; Phoenix; Kansas City; DFW; even Wheeling, WV - years ago. I predict these employees will be the first to go WFH. You had, say, customer service agents sitting side by side in an office in Arizona - that company's not gonna want to double its footprint in Arizona so they can all sit 6 feet apart. Instead the customer service agents will all be moved to WFH and the company will actually end up saving money.

Secondarily, there will be an increased move to reduce in-office headcount in the cities too. In the law firm context, this might mean paralegals and staff attorneys being asked to WFH indefinitely.

But I really don't see companies going "all virtual". Just not going to happen.

(This is distinct from allowing employees to WFH indefinitely. I predict many companies and law firms will do this, out of liability/PR fears. But many employees will not take up this offer, either because they genuinely prefer working in the office or because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that indefinite WFH will harm their career prospects.)

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by nealric » Wed May 13, 2020 5:47 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 4:56 pm
HarrisonK wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:42 pm
Possible NYC lawyers never return. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays say it is "highly unlikely" employees will ever return to their NYC offices. Additionally, Twitter is WFH forever. It may be coming to the legal industry sooner than we think.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/nyre ... -home.html
I agree that the number of people working in the office will never return to what it used to be. For years leading up to this pandemic, companies have prioritized saving rent dollars by packing workers ever more closely together. First the offices vanished in favor of cubicles. Then the cubicles vanished and it was assigned desks. Then even the assigned desks vanished, in favor of unassigned, first-come first-served desks and workstations, on the notion that there's always some fraction of the workforce that'll be out on any given day due to illness, vacation, etc.

Now everyone's terrified of these unassigned, open workspaces, and rightly so. There's zero social distancing and there's great concern over coming in and using the same keyboard and mouse someone else used earlier that day or the previous day. Companies are moving back toward assigned desks/cubicles at a minimum, and even then, assigned desks/cubicles didn't use to provide 6 feet of spacing between coworkers. Overnight, companies will be losing huge numbers of workstations due to social distancing and moving back to assigned desks/cubicles, and I don't foresee companies being willing to double their rent footprint to provide assigned, socially distanced desks to employees who can, at least in theory, WFH indefinitely.

But the fact of the matter is, top talent generally wants to work in the office. It's why companies have maintained offices in expensive cities like NYC and Silicon Valley and LA and Seattle to begin with. Employees that were easier to recruit/replace were relegated to cheaper offices in secondary cities - in Huntsville, AL; Phoenix; Kansas City; DFW; even Wheeling, WV - years ago. I predict these employees will be the first to go WFH. You had, say, customer service agents sitting side by side in an office in Arizona - that company's not gonna want to double its footprint in Arizona so they can all sit 6 feet apart. Instead the customer service agents will all be moved to WFH and the company will actually end up saving money.

Secondarily, there will be an increased move to reduce in-office headcount in the cities too. In the law firm context, this might mean paralegals and staff attorneys being asked to WFH indefinitely.

But I really don't see companies going "all virtual". Just not going to happen.

(This is distinct from allowing employees to WFH indefinitely. I predict many companies and law firms will do this, out of liability/PR fears. But many employees will not take up this offer, either because they genuinely prefer working in the office or because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that indefinite WFH will harm their career prospects.)
I agree with this take. Although virtual connectivity does work really well in general, there are some things that are far better done with in-person interaction. Anything requiring team building, sales, or negotiation is very difficult to do effectively remotely. Moreover, managers are more likely to treat people well that they actually know and work with as opposed to faceless voices on the phone or disembodied heads on video conference apps.

On a related note, my hope is that this slows the steady erosion of personal space in the office. There are some jobs where it's helpful to work shoulder to shoulder, but law is most certainly not one of them. Interestingly, my company was in the process of designing new interiors for a new office building as COVID-19 hit. It will be interesting to see how it changes their plans.

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VulcanVulcanVulcan

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by VulcanVulcanVulcan » Wed May 13, 2020 7:06 pm

nealric wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 5:47 pm
QContinuum wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 4:56 pm
HarrisonK wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:42 pm
Possible NYC lawyers never return. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays say it is "highly unlikely" employees will ever return to their NYC offices. Additionally, Twitter is WFH forever. It may be coming to the legal industry sooner than we think.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/nyre ... -home.html
I agree that the number of people working in the office will never return to what it used to be. For years leading up to this pandemic, companies have prioritized saving rent dollars by packing workers ever more closely together. First the offices vanished in favor of cubicles. Then the cubicles vanished and it was assigned desks. Then even the assigned desks vanished, in favor of unassigned, first-come first-served desks and workstations, on the notion that there's always some fraction of the workforce that'll be out on any given day due to illness, vacation, etc.

Now everyone's terrified of these unassigned, open workspaces, and rightly so. There's zero social distancing and there's great concern over coming in and using the same keyboard and mouse someone else used earlier that day or the previous day. Companies are moving back toward assigned desks/cubicles at a minimum, and even then, assigned desks/cubicles didn't use to provide 6 feet of spacing between coworkers. Overnight, companies will be losing huge numbers of workstations due to social distancing and moving back to assigned desks/cubicles, and I don't foresee companies being willing to double their rent footprint to provide assigned, socially distanced desks to employees who can, at least in theory, WFH indefinitely.

But the fact of the matter is, top talent generally wants to work in the office. It's why companies have maintained offices in expensive cities like NYC and Silicon Valley and LA and Seattle to begin with. Employees that were easier to recruit/replace were relegated to cheaper offices in secondary cities - in Huntsville, AL; Phoenix; Kansas City; DFW; even Wheeling, WV - years ago. I predict these employees will be the first to go WFH. You had, say, customer service agents sitting side by side in an office in Arizona - that company's not gonna want to double its footprint in Arizona so they can all sit 6 feet apart. Instead the customer service agents will all be moved to WFH and the company will actually end up saving money.

Secondarily, there will be an increased move to reduce in-office headcount in the cities too. In the law firm context, this might mean paralegals and staff attorneys being asked to WFH indefinitely.

But I really don't see companies going "all virtual". Just not going to happen.

(This is distinct from allowing employees to WFH indefinitely. I predict many companies and law firms will do this, out of liability/PR fears. But many employees will not take up this offer, either because they genuinely prefer working in the office or because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that indefinite WFH will harm their career prospects.)
I agree with this take. Although virtual connectivity does work really well in general, there are some things that are far better done with in-person interaction. Anything requiring team building, sales, or negotiation is very difficult to do effectively remotely. Moreover, managers are more likely to treat people well that they actually know and work with as opposed to faceless voices on the phone or disembodied heads on video conference apps.

On a related note, my hope is that this slows the steady erosion of personal space in the office. There are some jobs where it's helpful to work shoulder to shoulder, but law is most certainly not one of them. Interestingly, my company was in the process of designing new interiors for a new office building as COVID-19 hit. It will be interesting to see how it changes their plans.
I think it might actually go the other way -- lots of other professional services companies have gone to "hoteling" office setups where you don't have a permanent space. You offload some real estate costs on employees by making it easier to work at home / harder to work from an office, without going to the dreaded open office setup. I do think "open office" has definitely peaked, but I don't think it will be replaced by anything better. Companies are always looking to reduce real estate costs, and aren't inclined to suddenly spend a lot more. Is essentially mandated work from home better than a sea of desks?

I don't really understand how hoteling works, for what it's worth -- where do you keep your stuff? Lawyers have lots of binders and books and stuff.

HarrisonK

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Re: Prediction: When will NYC lawyers return to the office?

Post by HarrisonK » Wed May 13, 2020 7:28 pm

VulcanVulcanVulcan wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 7:06 pm
nealric wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 5:47 pm
QContinuum wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 4:56 pm
HarrisonK wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:42 pm
Possible NYC lawyers never return. JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays say it is "highly unlikely" employees will ever return to their NYC offices. Additionally, Twitter is WFH forever. It may be coming to the legal industry sooner than we think.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/nyre ... -home.html
I agree that the number of people working in the office will never return to what it used to be. For years leading up to this pandemic, companies have prioritized saving rent dollars by packing workers ever more closely together. First the offices vanished in favor of cubicles. Then the cubicles vanished and it was assigned desks. Then even the assigned desks vanished, in favor of unassigned, first-come first-served desks and workstations, on the notion that there's always some fraction of the workforce that'll be out on any given day due to illness, vacation, etc.

Now everyone's terrified of these unassigned, open workspaces, and rightly so. There's zero social distancing and there's great concern over coming in and using the same keyboard and mouse someone else used earlier that day or the previous day. Companies are moving back toward assigned desks/cubicles at a minimum, and even then, assigned desks/cubicles didn't use to provide 6 feet of spacing between coworkers. Overnight, companies will be losing huge numbers of workstations due to social distancing and moving back to assigned desks/cubicles, and I don't foresee companies being willing to double their rent footprint to provide assigned, socially distanced desks to employees who can, at least in theory, WFH indefinitely.

But the fact of the matter is, top talent generally wants to work in the office. It's why companies have maintained offices in expensive cities like NYC and Silicon Valley and LA and Seattle to begin with. Employees that were easier to recruit/replace were relegated to cheaper offices in secondary cities - in Huntsville, AL; Phoenix; Kansas City; DFW; even Wheeling, WV - years ago. I predict these employees will be the first to go WFH. You had, say, customer service agents sitting side by side in an office in Arizona - that company's not gonna want to double its footprint in Arizona so they can all sit 6 feet apart. Instead the customer service agents will all be moved to WFH and the company will actually end up saving money.

Secondarily, there will be an increased move to reduce in-office headcount in the cities too. In the law firm context, this might mean paralegals and staff attorneys being asked to WFH indefinitely.

But I really don't see companies going "all virtual". Just not going to happen.

(This is distinct from allowing employees to WFH indefinitely. I predict many companies and law firms will do this, out of liability/PR fears. But many employees will not take up this offer, either because they genuinely prefer working in the office or because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that indefinite WFH will harm their career prospects.)
I agree with this take. Although virtual connectivity does work really well in general, there are some things that are far better done with in-person interaction. Anything requiring team building, sales, or negotiation is very difficult to do effectively remotely. Moreover, managers are more likely to treat people well that they actually know and work with as opposed to faceless voices on the phone or disembodied heads on video conference apps.

On a related note, my hope is that this slows the steady erosion of personal space in the office. There are some jobs where it's helpful to work shoulder to shoulder, but law is most certainly not one of them. Interestingly, my company was in the process of designing new interiors for a new office building as COVID-19 hit. It will be interesting to see how it changes their plans.
I think it might actually go the other way -- lots of other professional services companies have gone to "hoteling" office setups where you don't have a permanent space. You offload some real estate costs on employees by making it easier to work at home / harder to work from an office, without going to the dreaded open office setup. I do think "open office" has definitely peaked, but I don't think it will be replaced by anything better. Companies are always looking to reduce real estate costs, and aren't inclined to suddenly spend a lot more. Is essentially mandated work from home better than a sea of desks?

I don't really understand how hoteling works, for what it's worth -- where do you keep your stuff? Lawyers have lots of binders and books and stuff.
Last summer I worked for a NYC Big4 (and I'll be returning in September) that exclusively did hoteling. In my opinion, it didn't work. In my Big4, the desk you initially picked basically became your desk indefinitely. I had my own dedicated spot. When I was out, I "opened" my desk for use by a random person but that person needed to give my desk back to me when I came in. This was very awkward because some people have a lot of personal belongings on their desks (shoes, clothes, pictures, books, gadgets, etc.) and moving all their stuff to use their desk felt like an invasion of their privacy. I really didn't like it. When you would go away for an extended period of time (I think it was anything over 1-2 weeks, you were required to clean off your desk and remove personal items. For someone like me with a 2 hour commute each way consisting of multiple forms of public transportation plus driving, this would be a huge inconvenience.

I think someone else mentioned this, and I agree, hoteling really opens the door for prolonged WFH to the extent that it's the company's policy that there aren't enough desks for everyone. Thus hoteling works best when people WFH.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


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