That’s the idea that was presented a few days ago by Confused of Calcutta, and one that I kept finding myself considering after reading about it.
You might recall over a month ago that I wrote about non-lawyer staff and the marketing of a firm, and the importance of bringing more to the table than just doing your job, because any good employee can do your job, a great employee becomes a resource for the firm in many more ways than just doing the assigned work.
That could explain why I see much to like in this idea of coming in to a job and bringing your own identity, using the tools you choose, etc. You don’t stop being you between the hours of 8-5, and you don’t stop being an employee of the firm at 5. That’s not the way the world works any more. Certainly there is much to be said for work/life balance, and I am a big believer in having a healthy balance between work and fun, but at the same time the best source of customers for any enterprise are the people your employees are talking to and interacting with. I know my impression of many companies has been based on what the people who work there have said about it, or experienced while working there, but it’s something I don’t think many companies think about, and dare I say, it’s something very few law firms have stopped to consider. Oh, many will take great pains to not get a negative reputation among lawyers, but don’t stop to think about all of the potential clients their support staff is also connected with. The wild world of Web 2.0 is starting to change that perspective, but slowly. It’s now easy enough to see how connected many of the people who work for you are, and not just the potential damage that can be caused by disgruntled employees, but also the opportunity that having truly engaged employees brings.
Staff members who are proud of the firm they work for are, generally, more than happy to tell the people they know about it. That can’t be a bad thing, can it? Unfortunately, too many places will never know, because they live in abject fear of what their employees might say if they were given the freedom to do so. That’s too bad, and just might be an indictment of how they treat these non-attorney staff members. Not so much as people, with rich, full lives, relationships, and many things to offer, but as cogs in the machine, there to do your bidding for 8 hours per day and nothing more.
I know which kind of environment I enjoy working in more. I’d bet I’m not alone.