November/December 2020

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Working From Home Works: Law Firms Must Adapt

Daniel J. Siegel

“If you’re not here, I’m not here.” I muttered that phrase under my breath for what seems like thousands of times during my two decades of working at law firms as my bosses repeatedly believed that the only time I was working was when they too were in the office.

As a “morning person,” I wake up around 4:30 a.m., a time most people consider crazy. I exercise and then go to work, arriving by 7:00 a.m. and working until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. at the latest. My bosses, however, tended to arrive around 9:00 a.m., or even later, and stayed until early evening. As a result, I left the office before they did. They always made it clear by their words and/or body language, however, that I wasn’t working “enough.” That I always completed my assignments on time, that my brain was a french fry by 5:00 p.m., and that I worked more efficiently and produced my best work product early in the morning when phones didn’t ring and bosses didn’t stop by to chat was irrelevant. Because my circadian rhythms did not match theirs, I was not working enough.

Each time they commented or made a face, I would mutter to myself, “If you’re not here, I’m not here.” Bosses might assume that just because they’re not in the office, you’re not either, but “If you’re not here, I’m not here” is wrong.

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