Working remotely has become the norm for many since 2020, including for paralegals. A remote paralegal can still perform all the functions they do within the office, as long as they have attorneys supervising them. If you find yourself working remotely full time or in a hybrid model, you’ll want to remain as productive and efficient as possible.
Whether you’re a work-from-home pro or are still finding your footing as a paralegal that works from home, you will appreciate these tips that can boost productivity and efficiency.
The biggest barrier to working from home pre-pandemic was the misconception that employees couldn’t be productive outside of an office. When companies had to send workers home, they proved the misnomer wrong. There are certainly advantages of working in the office regarding collaboration and access. However, with the right processes, approach, and technology, remote work doesn’t have to feel so distant.
When looking at what the world has learned about remote work, research shows that most employees and employers find it fruitful. One study found that 83 percent of employers and 79 percent of employees call it a success. In the State of Remote Work 2021 report, 90 percent of employees said they were as productive or more working remotely as they were working in the office.
The sentiment and themes in this research demonstrate that people are adaptable and resilient. Those are qualities essential to paralegal work. Understanding that where you work doesn’t impact how you work or your productivity, there are some ways to make working from anywhere easier and more efficient.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to find a space that’s solely for work. A home office is ideal, but not everyone may have the space. Even if it’s only a small area in another room, having this dedicated space can put you in the right mindset and help you balance work and life.
The space should be as distraction-free as possible. It should be quiet and private if you have it. They make video calls with attorneys, colleagues, and clients much easier. Make sure the room or corner has good lighting. You also want a comfortable chair.
Plan out your day just as you would if you worked in an office. The good thing is you no longer have a commute, but don’t put expectations on yourself to work longer hours because you can quickly burn out.
Treat being a paralegal that works from home the same as you would being one that works in an office by blocking time each day to address all your to-dos. Take breaks to ensure you recharge too.
Video calls quickly replaced in-person meetings. This screen-to-screen interaction is effective and engaging. A study concluded that 87 percent of employees feel more connected to coworkers with video calls. Employees also find that videoconferencing improves job satisfaction due to the real-time communication and collaboration it offers.
You may even find that video calls are more engaging than in-person meetings because there are fewer distractions from phones and passersby. Use this tool to enhance communication and collaboration that can be as impactful as being there.
Here’s how to look best on screen:
Opt for natural lighting if possible; if not, a soft light behind your webcam works well.
Get the right angle with your camera. Placing it at eye level is ideal.
Show more than just your head since a lot of communication is nonverbal and includes gestures.
Test out your headset before calls to ensure the audio is working correctly.
Declutter your background if possible. If not, blur it or use a digital one.
Maintain eye contact while others are speaking for better engagement.
You may answer chats or texts from attorneys, coworkers, or clients as soon as they come in if they are urgent. These more immediate communication channels often require a quick response. Emails are often less urgent. However, they can certainly fill your inbox quickly.
Block off time in the morning to catch up on all emails. Make that your focus for 30-45 minutes so you can then move to other projects and give them your undivided attention.
While you don’t want to put unnecessary meetings on your calendar, it is important to have regular check-ins. It might be beneficial to have regular meetings with the attorneys you support. They can be brief and a time to ask questions, clarify requests, and more.
Additionally, have team meetings with your colleagues. These are times to address big cases or projects so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities. It’s also a good opportunity to talk about workload and how to manage current challenges with processes.
Depending on your remote setup, how people contact you may be different. For those with cloud-based phone systems, you’ll be reachable from the same number. You can use those platforms from your computer or smartphone. If that’s not the case, be sure you update your contact information.
If you had challenges with processes in the office, they are likely still in the picture with remote work. Refining processes is vital to success no matter where you work. Improving these isn’t a part of your casework, but it still should be a priority.
One of the most issue-prone procedures relates to process serving. It’s often a manual, time-consuming, and frustrating experience. It’s a lot of back-and-forth with individuals to find a server. Then you have to wait for communication from them. It can drain hours from your week. If you could revolutionize this process so that remote paralegals could manage it better, you would be eager to do so. You can with Proof.
Proof is a single platform to request process serving in all 50 states. You simply load in the information, and the system matches you with vetted and approved servers who are ready to complete the work. You can track all jobs, communication, and more from one centralized source.
To work remotely, you’ll need access to all the technology tools you have in the office, which means they need to be cloud-based. One of the most critical is a unified communications solution that enables voice, video calls, chat, and more into one system accessible from anywhere.
While access is critical, so is security, so your organization must have protections in place to safeguard sensitive and confidential information.
To flourish and thrive as a remote paralegal, you’ll need access to cases, documents, and the tools you use for research, practice management, and specific tasks such as process serving. Some of our favorites include Fastcase for legal research, eDepoze for digitizing depositions, Trello or Asana for project management, and CourtSolutions for remote hearings. Read our blog post for more.
If that’s not your current work ecosystem, you should voice the benefits of this to stakeholders, including the attorneys you support and IT leadership. You can be sure that Proof will be a game changer for remote or in-person work. It’s cloud-based and includes all security best practices. Download our brochure to see how Proof can change the way you work today.