DLA Piper, Finalist 2015, The Santander Best New Flexible Working Initiative
DLA Piper’s initiative has given a real boost to flexibility by rebranding and relaunching it as ‘agile working’. In particular, DLA Piper has focused on career progression, often a challenge for flexible workers, through the use of job-sharing supported by clever use of technology. For the rebrand, the firm developed two guides: one for employees and one for managers and partners. The guide for employees includes examples of different types of agile working arrangements and detailed guidance on how to prepare for them. The guide for managers and partners also includes critical success factors for agile working, how to consider an agile working request and examples of client perspectives on agile working. Both guides contain examples of actual arrangements and quotes from employees and clients. DLA Piper felt it was important to showcase a number of different arrangements for both male and female employees to challenge the view that flexible working is just for mums who want to work part-time. The guides and new policy were sent out directly by the UK Managing Partner with a personal message.
In addition and crucial to its agile working strategy, DLA Piper has explored job-sharing, believing that effective job-share partnerships can be key enablers for career progression for agile workers. The firm was determined to take a ‘smart’ approach, focusing on agile working arrangements that not only suited an individual’s personal circumstances but also provided them with career development opportunities. In the past there has been some resistance to giving part-time employees key client-facing work and this may have inhibited career progression. However, job-sharing effectively addresses this issue for DLA Piper, providing support and development opportunities to both parties. DLA Piper has also delivered a webinar for all of its UK HR staff to introduce them to job-sharing, address some fears and concerns and explain the practical steps to making job-sharing arrangements effective. The firm has utilised technology effectively so that employees are able to work seamlessly from other locations and at times that suit their own individual needs and requirements (whether that be on the train, at a client’s office or at the kitchen table!). It is DLA Piper’s aim to be the leading law firm for agile working.
DLA Piper has joined the Agile Future Forum and hosted an external Women In Business Law seminar on agile working, with a panel including senior leaders from other organisations.
The launch of the new policy saw the introduction of 44 agile working arrangements and two very effective job-share partnerships which involved four lawyers.