THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 24: ROBERT MALES: THE MANAGING PARTNER’S TALE
The latest member of our club is Robert Males. As you may be able to guess from the photo Robert is managing partner of Underwoods Solicitors of Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire and Cape Town, South Africa.
Where are you working from now?
- Working from home where I am fortunate enough to have a separate study, but I have to be quick to get in there in the mornings as I currently have four others working from home so it is a struggle to find a quiet spot.
What has been most difficult about working remotely.
- Realising that my daughter, who is in HR, spends most of her working day on a variety of remote meetings and has an incredibly loud voice which she certainly did not inherit from her father! I have always been keen on separating work and home life, so it has been quite a struggle trying to switch off from work when at home, but I have become better at that as the weeks go on.
What has been your biggest technical challenge?
3. I have never been a great one for technology, but I have certainly learnt a lot in the last two months and I am much more comfortable with remote hearings and meetings although I have slipped up when failing to press the mute button on occasion when I really should have done!
Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with yo
4. I am quite happy working off a computer and iPad, but my small printer has taken a bit of a bashing over the last few weeks as I struggle to read long documents on screen and much prefer printing them out, but the most important thing, from a work point of view, is the interaction with colleagues and that is what I really miss the most.
What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned.
5. I have learnt that I can do a lot more work from home and without the day to day issues that crop up in the office. I can be far more productive, but equally I have also learned how important it is to have face to face contact with clients and colleagues as well as fellow professionals at hearings, tribunals and mediations and that there is no substitute for being in the same room as others and reading body language and other non-verbal signs which is vital in our work. I have also realised how much I have relied on my colleagues in South Africa who have all been working from home during the lockdown over there, but have still managed to carry out all of my typing as well as for the other law firms that we work for.
Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future
6. I think it will be a very long time before things get back to normal so having the option available for clients if they wish to have a remote meeting is important and I am now much more comfortable conducting meetings in that way although as I have said I will always prefer a face to face meeting. I am also happy to do some more work from home, as long as my daughter goes back to her office! I can see the opportunity for many more businesses offshoring their work as they now realise that remote working is straight forward, and I expect my colleagues in South Africa will be a lot busier in the future. There are significant savings to be made, not only by having support services, but also routine legal work carried out in a low-cost jurisdiction.
What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?
7, I could say visit my 88 year old mother who has been in isolation since early March and that is certainly something up near the top of the list along with a meal at my favourite Indian restaurant with as many of my friends as can make it, but that would be after I have been off to Vauxhall Road to watch Hemel Hempstead Town for some excellent grassroots football!!