Reviewing urgent Co-Use Deed for a new wind farm whilst living my best life!

Before March 2020, I don’t think I would have ever thought that I could work flexibly from the beach, but here we are in January 2021. Every business around the world has had to adapt to the uncertain and evolving circumstances with COVID-19. 

At Herbert Smith Freehills, we have recently adopted a global policy baseline expecting staff to be in the office 60% of their working time (e.g. 3 days per week for full-time). In the past, people have either worked from the office or from their home, but I consider that 2021 is the time for people to consider working remotely in an environment that best suits them for productivity, connectivity and maintaining professional responsibilities and duties. 

I must say the beach served me well for a Friday. There is a balancing act and I do consider that there are many benefits to working in the office. In fact, I prefer to spend most of my working time in the office because I am an extrovert. 

For many people, flexible working was always associated with parenting and caring responsibilities, but I consider that flexible working is the way forward and there should be no reason required. I do not have any children but I enjoy my extra-curricular activities focused on diversity and inclusion, for example, being a National Director of Pride in Law and founding member of the Queensland Law Society Diverse Abilities Network. 

I benefit from knowing that my time and venue of work are flexible, and that enables me to effectively and efficiently meet my work and extra-curricular demands. Traditionally, law firms have had forms that had to be completed before allowing staff to work flexibly and remotely, but I consider that it does not need to be that complicated. If you do not already have the communication and trust with your staff, they are likely one foot out the door already and not bringing their best effort to work. I recognise that I do have the benefit of working in a smaller team, which may encourage more communication and trust. 

Traditionally, there has effectively been a one size fits all approach, but I consider that an individual staff member led approach should be adopted. There are many variables to consider for every staff member, but ultimately there is a path forward that benefits the staff member, their team and the organisation. The staff member and management should be solutions-focused to identify and clarify the expectations and resources required. 

I consider that the pre-pandemic assumptions and process for flexible work are out the window. Employers need to be proactive in this space or they will risk losing their staff to other employers who genuinely support flexible and remote working. My millennial generation is particularly keen with evolving technology that affords new ways of working. Live your best life and I might see you on the beach!

Michael Bidwell

Michael Bidwell

Lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills

Michael Bidwell is an environment and planning solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills working for a range of clients to provide front end strategic advice and appearing in all forms of litigation. Michael is an advocate for diversity and inclusion sitting on his firm’s Diversity & Inclusion, LGBTIQ+ and Ability committees. He is also a founding National Director of Pride in Law.