Monday, August 17, 2020

Working From Home Lately

via Unsplash

Oops, it's been quite a while since I last posted! I've been incredibly busy with work for the last two weeks, including for two days straight where another team member and I both needed to work until 5:00 AM. But I don't mind it too much, because long - sometimes punishingly long - hours are just part of the job of private-sector legal practice in biglaw - and biglaw-adjacent - workplaces. And a lot of our work recently has been pro bono and directly related to the fight against police violence and racially discriminatory policing, which is extremely important. 

I should note that, in all my years in the industry, I've never had to stay up anywhere near this late before, much less for two days straight. Though staying at the office until 10:30 or 11:00 PM and doing at least some follow-up work from home afterwards was not uncommon in pre-COVID times. (Now most of us just do those same hours from home.) And I don't think working past 1:00 or 2:00 AM is especially common for litigators in general. Between all my litigator friends and I, we've only each done that a handful of times at most, in several years of practicing law. 

And I think, if these were pre-COVID days where we were all in the office for business completely as usual, those 5:00 AM nights would not have run anywhere near as late. I've found there's a lot of inefficiencies added to the workday in these pandemic times. Those inefficiencies are particularly noticeable when productivity is - to a large extent - measured by an attorney's billable hours. I used to pretty consistently bill seven or seven-and-a-half hours in a typical 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM day at the office, with normal lunch and coffee breaks (which included going out and taking a quick walk to buy said lunch or coffee). But these days, it typically takes me until at least 7:30 PM to bill seven hours, even with all the commuting and going out for takeout time completely eliminated from my schedule. 

I'm reminded that I once wrote a post about working from home, mostly focused on my typical practice of wearing very relaxed-fit and relatively un-cute lounge clothes anytime I'm at my apartment, including if I'm working a full day there. Now that I'm working from home all the time, I haven't really changed my manner of dress. I'll put on Zoom-appropriate "real people clothes" if I have a video call, but otherwise it's schlubby lounge clothes all day long, mostly just a short-ish cotton tee-shirt dress (affiliate link) without sweatpants or a sweatshirt now that it's summer. 

By now, you've probably already seen that long-form New York Times article about "The End of Fashion," which touched somewhat on COVID-driven changes to workwear and increased interest in loungewear, but is also a lot more focused on larger disruptions and changes to the fashion industry from recent, pre-COVID, years. It definitely isn't the end of business formal wear for my industry. Someday, courts will reopen, and we'll no doubt still need to dress as formally as we used to for that. But I don't know if COVID might cause long-term changes to what we typically wear day-to-day at the office, once we're able to return there consistently. 

Has COVID-19 caused any changes to your efficiency or productivity levels when working from home? (It's hard for me to compare my current level of productivity with how it was pre-COVID because I worked from home so rarely back them.) If you read that "End of Fashion" article in the New York Times, what did you think? 

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