I have spent considerable time wondering about this since we entered what is arguably the post pandemic phase. There are benefits to working from home for certain, but there also are benefits to being in the office among colleagues, joining in impromptu conversations that can be important for career development, and observing how seasoned lawyers lead and manage teams and develop clients.
Until now, I did not have any statistical evidence. But now, thanks to my friend Phyllis Weiss Haserot, an expert on multiple generations in the workplace, I have more guidance on what Gen Xers and Gen Zers in the workplace think about that question.
Although it is true that the Dell survey cited in the article below is not specific to young lawyers, I have to believe that the stats for young lawyers would be more in favor of “in person” work because of the limitations to virtual work in a profession like the law where being “seen” in the traditional way holds such high value among managers and decision-makers.
Here is what Ms. Haserot had to say in her recent Practice Development Counsel blog:
News Flash! The Younger Generations DO Want to Be In-Person
Let’s ’s stick a big fat pin in the myth that Gen Z and young Millennials only want to meet on their screens. It’s a split decision and open to change. A recent Dell survey found 29% of Gen Z respondents prefer to be in person. 29% want flexibility, which translates to in-person some days and outside the office space some of the time as expedient and most appropriate to get the work done.
My personal experience is that many ARE interested in being in person and know what they are missing when being only virtual!!! Just not all the time, so they have flexibility to incorporate other important things in their lives.
So, the verdict seems to be that flexibility rules. Which makes me feel very good because I have been preaching flexibility for women lawyers for a very long time and, most recently, for all young lawyers as increasing numbers of male lawyers are participating in childcare and other family responsibilities that depend on flexibility for success at work and at home.
Where do you fall on this question? Deciding whether you are an “all virtual lawyer”, a “one day of the week in the office lawyer” or some combination of the two is likely to be very important to your future. Give it lots of thought, and build your case. It is sure to come up, and you want to be ready for the discussion. Your future may depend on it.