How Telecommuting Powered by the Cloud
Is Going to Help Your Firm

Telecommuting is a fancy word for allowing employees to work from home, in remote offices, or while on the road. While this is certainly NOT a new concept, recent advancements in technology and security have made it very affordable and a wonderful solution for even small law firms.

The “best-of-the-best” remote access technology that used to only be affordable for large firms is now available to small and medium-sized firms, leveling the playing field for how your firm operates. Cloud computing has come so far in the recent years that this telecommuting solution now can be used by firms of all sizes. Although there are numerous benefits of going to the Cloud, we will be discussing the “anytime, anywhere” benefit of the Cloud in this article.

Why would a firm want to use the Cloud for telecommuting purposes? Some law firms are being forced to telecommute more because they’ve run out of office space or to accommodate “road warriors.” But many are doing it for these reasons:

  • Managing partners (and key managers) working 60+ hours a week are using it as a way to continue working after hours and on weekends from the convenience of their home office
  • Allowing employees to work from home means firms can cut back on office space, lowering rent and utility bills. According to a recent survey of small businesses, nearly 40% of small and medium firms have (or plan to) cut down office space and allow employees to work remotely from home to save money. Not only is this lowering overhead, but it’s making for happier employees who no longer have to fill their gas tanks.
  • Telecommuting actually increases employee productivity, lowers stress levels, and improves retention. Contrary to what you may believe, employees who work from home tend to work more, not less. Because the computer is right there in their home, they will often put in extra hours during the evening and on weekends when they normally wouldn’t be able to access the network. Plus, employees working on detailed programs, graphics, and projects tend to get more done when they don’t have to deal with office distractions.
  • Some firms are allowing their employees to work from home two or three days out of a week instead of giving them a raise – a bonus many will gladly take over more money. This also works well if you have limited office space because employees can rotate desk usage.
  • It allows you to keep great employees that need or want to relocate; need to stay home to take care of a sick family member; or who are sick, injured, pregnant, or otherwise unable to physically come into the office.

Common Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions about Allowing Your Employees to Work from Home

One of the biggest fears many firms have about allowing people to work from home is the loss of control they have over that person. They believe that without someone standing over them, employees will goof off during work hours and become LESS productive.

But the hard results prove very different:

Telecommuting has grown at a steady 3-4% per year for more than 15 years. Currently, more than 23 million people are working from home at least one day a week. The increase in teleworking programs is no accident – it really IS working.

Take the Los Angeles Bank for example; they decided to test telecommuting to see if it would help their 33% turnover rate. Here were the results:

The experiment worked. Within a year, the turnover rate was cut to nearly zero, and to everyone’s surprise productivity went up 18%, saving the regional bank more than $3 million dollars per year.

Since then, there have been numerous, well documented, program studies reflecting promising results.
You may be thinking, “But I don’t have 600 employees. How does this apply to me?” No matter how small your firm or your real estate situation, you can save money. It’ll just be a bit smaller than the Los Angeles Bank. For instance:

On average, small firms report saving $85,000 to $93,000 per year in lower turnover, reduced operating costs (gas, utilities, office space), and increased productivity after implementing teleworking programs. (Source: International Teleworking Advocacy Group)

Of course, telecommuting might not be right for every employee on staff, but it is a great option (and reward) for key managers or employees who are self-motivated and measured by results rather than hours worked.

Six Critical Characteristics You Should Demand from Any IT Company You’re Considering to Set Up Your Cloud

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best solution is greatly dependent on your specific firm needs, the applications you use, how many people will be accessing your systems remotely, the available equipment, and dozens of other factors. Cloud computing is a fantastic solution for firms of all sizes, but it’s imperative that you do your due diligence when looking at providers. That's why you want to look for a consultant who meets the following criteria:

  • Look for an IT company who has strong and recent experience setting up cloud solutions and has client references.

    Do you really want to trust your IT network to someone who has very little cloud computing experience? Ask for recent references and call them! Past performance is generally a good gauge of future performance.

  • Make sure they do a thorough evaluation up front.

    If your consultant doesn’t insist on doing a thorough evaluation before handing you a cloud proposal, do not hire them! If they don’t do their homework, they could easily sell you the wrong solution, causing you to spend more money, more time, and have more frustration getting to what you really need. Here is a short list of the things they should investigate or ask you:

    • What are your overall goals and specific objectives for moving to the Cloud?
    • What is your current bandwidth? Will it need to be upgraded to handle the Cloud?
    • What applications (including specialty or proprietary apps) and data will your employees need to access? Are these tested and approved to work on the Cloud?
    • What type of devices will your staff use to access the network? (home computers, tablets, laptops, etc.)
    • What levels of security do you want in place?
    • What level of monitoring do you want in place?
    • What are your one year and three year plans for growth?
  • Make sure they can provide remote and on-demand help desk support both during business hours and after hours.

    One of the main appeals to cloud computing is the ability to work anywhere and at any time. That means you need to be able to get support from anywhere. You need someone to be on-call during off-peak hours if you or your employees have technical problems logging in or accessing the network.

  • Make sure they know legal.

    Law firms have very specific technology needs and requirements (think of all of the integrations your network has), and not just any IT company “gets legal.” Make sure that your IT company has the experience working with law firms and that they know your firm’s legal applications that you use on a daily basis. Think of your technology like a car. You wouldn’t take a high-end luxury vehicle to just any mechanic. You take it to someone who knows your car’s make inside and out.

  • Make sure your consultant is willing and able to be a vendor liaison for your specific firm applications or other specialty applications.

    It’s amazing how many critical applications work fine within the office network, but then slow down or shut down when accessed on the Cloud. It’s important to ensure your consultant is able and willing to confirm your applications will operate efficiently on the Cloud. This means they may need to get on the phone with the help desk of one or more of your software vendors. Some consultants do not offer this service, or will charge you extra for it.

  • Make sure they are able to train you and your staff.

    So many IT consultants are great at installing the solution, but they fall short on training you and your staff on how to use the great technology they’ve just sold you. Make sure you hire someone who is able and willing to do the “hand holding” required when installing any new process or technology.

Telecommuting has a plethora of benefits, but in the past, the solutions used to remotely access the network have been cumbersome, problematic, and frustrating. Now that cloud computing has become a viable option for firms of all sizes, I think that we will begin to see more and more firms embracing telecommuting and cloud computing as a new norm for all firms.



WAMS has been providing law firms with comprehensive, high-quality IT/computer consulting and support solutions since 1974. Our legacy of superior quality and service continues today as we design, install, and maintain a vast network of both onsite and cloud-based computer systems specifically tailored for each unique client. Click here for more information.

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