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ANALYSIS: RTO or Work-From-Home? Surveyed Lawyers Weigh In

Nov. 1, 2021, 7:05 AM

We’re all aware of the challenges the pandemic has created for workers and their organizations. But for some, the opportunity to work remotely has left them with a lackluster view of returning to the office.

Bloomberg Law’s Attorney Workload & Hours Survey recently asked lawyers about their organization’s current expectations of their employees regarding in-person and remote work, as well as their personal preferences and satisfaction with current work policies. Results show a wide variation among the remote work policies that organizations have in place. While more than 40% of attorneys report that they currently have complete flexibility regarding work environment, one-quarter are expected to be in the office at least three days per week, and more than one in 10 are expected to be in the office full-time.

What do lawyers think of these in-person policies? We asked how satisfied respondents are with their organization’s current policies. While three-quarters of respondents overall report they are at least somewhat satisfied with their organization’s current policies, the story becomes clearer when looking at how satisfied lawyers are with their remote/in-person work policies that are currently in place: The percentage of respondents who are satisfied decreases as the number of in-person workdays increases. Nearly 90% of respondents who report they have complete flexibility with their work environment are satisfied with their organization’s policy, compared to only 37% of respondents who are expected to be in the office full-time.

What do lawyers want? That varies widely, too. When asked about their work environment, only 11% of respondents say they prefer to be in the office full-time. One-quarter of respondents prefer to work remotely 1-2 days per week, nearly 40% would prefer to work remotely 3-4 days per week, and one-quarter of respondents prefer to work remotely full-time.

There are many reasons why workers have recently been leaving their jobs en masse, including wage increases, better work environments, and better work-life balance. But the work-from-home vs. RTO conundrum is having a huge impact as well. Only time will tell if the Great Resignation will accelerate as organizations continue to wrestle with RTO initiatives, or if workers will be more than happy to once again have physical separation between their work and home.

Bloomberg Law will continue to track lawyers’ experiences with and attitudes toward their organizations’ RTO initiatives in our quarterly Attorney Workload and Hours Survey.

Access additional analyses from our Bloomberg Law 2022 series here, including pieces covering trends in Litigation, Regulatory & Compliance, Transactions & Markets, and the Future of the Legal Industry.

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our Surveys, Reports, & Data Analysis page.

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