The Pandemic Also Unlocked Exciting Possibilities
We have in this moment a great, global opportunity to reshape what it means to go to work every day. This is not just an opportunity to afford employees more flexibility in some abstract sense or to save money on office space. It is a far greater opportunity for each of us to achieve more success and fulfillment, both professionally and personally.
Well into the pandemic, I was convinced that certain parts of my job as a litigator were universally better done in person. But each time I thought, “This could not be done, or done as well, remotely,” I failed to account for unforeseen advantages.
In one highly expedited litigation, we were able to take a dozen depositions in a matter of days in large part because we did not have to travel around the country to attend them. We benefitted from more time preparing and collaborating with one another than might have otherwise been the case. In another matter, instead of negotiating with opposing counsel by phone as is typical, we spoke face-to-face on Zoom and built greater rapport in the process that translated into improved outcomes for our client. Put simply: remote tools unlock new possibilities.
This new way of working will also enrich our personal lives. I grew up appreciating these possibilities. My grandmother Ruth became a pediatrician at a time when very few women practiced medicine, in part because medical schools imposed quotas on the number of women per class. Once she entered the field, she ran her practice from home—with her office right off the living room and her sons’ elementary school right across the street. With this unique setup, her most important appointment each day for a time was not a patient checkup, but lunchtime with her sons.
A generation later, my father, also a lawyer, spent much of his career working from home three days a week. This arrangement enabled my mother to continue pursuing her career, and my father to watch my field hockey team consistently lose our afternoon matches, one of our only fans.
My hope is that we normalize and institutionalize the use of remote professional tools and workplace flexibility—in its myriad forms—in the years to come, continuing to identify new opportunities that may have seemed exceptional or revolutionary a generation or two ago.