In this edition of Realm Talks To, we spoke with Chris Gawne, Director at Price Slater Gawne to learn about the firm’s generous home working policy and why it has no plans to join the ranks of law firms that have been gradually rolling back their flexibility.
Could you tell us about Price Slater Gawne’s home working policy?
PSG was founded on the basis of home working, with flexibility and a good work-life balance being central to our culture. The majority of our employees work from home and feel that this works well for them both professionally and personally. However, we also have team members who work from the office part of the time and certain teams that have set office days.
We have a flexible approach depending on the needs of the role, the employee and the firm. We have offices in Altrincham, London and Chester so the option to come into the office and have face-to-face interactions with colleagues and clients is always there – we have a hot desk system where employees are able to book a desk with our admin team if they would like to come into the office.
Our policy and approach to home working is greatly supported by an ethos of trust, collaboration and kindness. Our team, whilst remote, feel confident in the knowledge that they can approach any member of the team to seek any support or guidance they require.
Why is it important for the firm to offer so much flexibility and how does this benefit your lawyers (and your clients)?
Flexibility has always been of the utmost importance to Price Slater Gawne, so much so that it forms part of our company values. Employee welfare is paramount; we want to look after our employees as much as we look after our clients. By offering flexible working, we assist our employees in achieving a strong work-life balance, in which they can thrive both professionally and personally.
Our three office locations allow employees to visit the office using a hot desk facility, arrange face-to-face meetings with clients as required and coordinate their diaries aligned to the requirements of their workload.
The flexibility afforded is permitted by trust in our team. – We treat our team like adults and trust them to provide an excellent service to our clients while working flexibly. We believe if we have happy employees, we will have happy clients!
What other benefits do you offer your team?
We offer a generous holiday allowance of 25 days plus bank holidays, a company pension scheme, a healthcare cash plan, life assurance and a bonus scheme of up to 10%.
With your lawyers spending much of their time working at home, how do you retain your company culture at Price Slater Gawne?
Culture is created and maintained by how people treat each other and by how the firm treats its people and vice versa. I think it would be wrong to assume that a great law firm culture is fostered by people sitting in an office. Our approach to working from home is in itself an important aspect of our culture.
Within the firm, we have a number of processes/principles in place that ensure our culture is maintained. We have an ‘open door’ policy in which all employees can seek help and guidance from others and encourage communication between our staff. A key principle that we adhere to is treating others with kindness. Our teams recognise the value and importance of supporting one another in order to achieve the best outcomes for our clients and for the firm, this is facilitated by regular Teams meetings and face-to-face meetings, promoting collaboration both within departments and firm-wide
Our team are ambitious, and we strive to support them in progressing on their chosen pathway. We have introduced a quarterly check-in process which ensures we are having regular conversations with our people and that they are achieving their desired career development. Our career structure assists employees in striving towards the next step in their careers. We want our team to flourish and are committed to ensuring that this is attainable by providing the support and training needed.
From a social perspective, we enjoy bringing all of the team together at our annual Summer and Christmas socials and we are also planning to introduce two further firm-wide training events/get-togethers in Spring and Autumn.
Realm Recruit’s 2023 state-of-the-market research revealed that law firms seem to be scaling back on flexibility with law firms now offering an average of 2.7 days each week, down from 3.9 in 2022. Why do you think this might be and do you have any plans to do the same?
The default position for most firms is to have people in the office more than at home, so it was always likely this would gradually become the norm again.
For us, the default position has always been to have most of our team working at home the majority of the time. We feel that if our employees work just as effectively from home, then we are happy to offer as much flexibility as possible. We have no plans to change that – it is an important part of our culture.