An emergency meeting of the firm was called on Monday the 25th March, 2020 to discuss the firm’s modus-operandi in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Earlier that same day, before I went to work, my husband requested to know the plans my office had in the light of COVID-19. I began to dole out the preparatory measures we were taking at the time and how we had worked on assuring our clients through all our social media platforms that we remain committed to executing all instructions even in these very strange times….. Long story short, I noticed throughout my ‘speech’, he had this look on his face that screamed ‘you have no idea what we are battling with here’. He being a health worker, had a pretty good idea of how far this pandemic could affect us as a Nation and he was just waiting to hear me say we have decided to start working remotely.
Fast forward to when the emergency meeting was called later that same day,we had a virtual meeting with the Lagos Office of our firm and it was clear that it was time to make the full transition to work remotely whilst still rendering the bespoke legal services we have come to be known for. I was satisfied with the firm’s efforts at stemming the tide of the pandemic in our own little way. We had to alert our clients of our decision, re-strategize on how to remain afloat in these times, reschedule some meetings, and move already confirmed meetings from physical Board Rooms to virtual Board Rooms. We also liaised with government agencies and regulatory bodies with whom we had some outstanding transactions, on what to expect on their part in these times. Sadly, only a few of them assured us that work will be ongoing.
I carefully collected from my workstation, all that would be useful for me remotely and launched out curiously, with a pinch of adventurism.Soon thereafter, it began to dawn on me that this experience was going to be…. interesting!!
From the very first week of working remotely, I realized that my makeshift workstation was actually really not designed for long hours at a stretch. Though I have had cause to work remotely on so many occasions prior to this,I had however not sat long hours at my home desk for consecutive days and now weeks. I figured that I had underestimated the importance of a proper workspace with appropriate furniture at home. I made a mental note to invest in home office furniture when this is all over!!!
Another lesson being learnt is that working remotely ‘robs’ you of the conventional closing hours. I must quickly add that it also teases you with unconventional work hours!!! (which is my best part of working remotely). I began to realize that I enjoyed the blend of the conventional and unconventional. After having put in some work hours, at my break time, I could make a quick meal, catch a nap or watch a rerun of Goliath (a legal drama TV series I have grown fond of) and delay my bedtime so I can put in some more working hours. Needless to say, on some days, my husband unwittingly benefited from having three square meals and snacks in between- a rare experience on a week day!!
There are also the distractions of home- family and entertainment. Whilst the battle of finding the perfect balance is ongoing, I am working around it by setting goals/deadlines for myself. Meeting those deadlines have been successful sometimes and not so successful at other times but suffice to say that I am making progress steadily.
The lock-down in various states have been staggered, with some states shutting down earlier than others. Apart of my job ensures I transact business with government officials of various states and seeing that states began to enforce the lock-down, I saw it as an opportunity to quickly conclude some transactions in states that had not commenced the lock-down because it became apparent, judging from the statistics by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, that we might be in lock-down longer than we all envisaged.
I concluded three transactions in record time just before the official shutdown was announced, saving more time for other assignments. By the following week, the state government also shut down its offices in response to the growing COVID-19 Pandemic. In these times, timing is key.
I figured I also had more free time to undertake some structured personal development programs such as courses and training in areas outside my areas of core competence. I have also taken the liberty to attend webinars and read books that have been on my shelf for some time now. I have come to know that I am better positioned to render bespoke legal services to my clients as a lawyer when I have a working knowledge of various sectors of the business world. I also am using my free time to research on various areas of law, especially post COVID-19.
This has however taken its toll on my data consumption as I now pay more for data. No pain no gain, right?
It’s been 20 days of working remotely and while I continue to gather my WFH experience, so far it has been nothing short of fascinating.
Shola is a Senior Associate in the Ibadan Office of FunmiRobertsandCo
Send FRC a mail via: email@example.com