Reducing Bottlenecks in Remote Work

12 June, 2020

C. Walker Harper

C. Walker Harper


Working remotely is nothing new; it’s actually how carpenters, blacksmiths, potters, and other skilled workers earned their living throughout most of our history—their workspaces were at home.

The concept of a “designated workspace” came about during the industrial revolution with the construction of large factories. In factory-towns, workers woke up each day, shuffled off to work, did their jobs, and returned home.

Another major flip-flop to our workspaces occurred as the advent of desktop computers and high-speed internet broadened the appeal of working away from the office, often again from home.

Throw in today’s double whammy of Covid-19 and state-wide shelter-in-place orders and remote-work is now more popular than ever.

For employees, working from home includes some undeniable advantages: flexible schedules, less time spent commuting, and, more often than people admit, comfy clothes. Employers benefit too by office space savings, happier employees and, in some instances, employees that are more productive than those in an office setting.

Still, as convenient as working remotely can be, there are some common challenges like inconsistent WiFi, employee boredom, and missed phone calls and meetings.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to working off-site is bottlenecks—those times when the work, which was progressing on schedule, slows to a glacial pace. They lead to lost time, financial problems, and frustration.

Bottlenecks happen from time-to-time even in the best-planned processes. Fortunately, they are solvable. Below are 5 Filevine features to help remote workers and their employers resolve bottlenecks when they arise.

 

Lack of Communication Among Team Members

In an office setting, employees can communicate freely and easily by dropping by another employee’s workspace for a quick chat, talking over lunch in the lunchroom, or even when passing one another in the hallways—all things remote workers are unable to do.

It’s too easy for remote workers toiling alone out in the hinterlands to miss important changes to work processes and schedules. They might miss meetings, schedule updates, or deadline changes. It can easily slow down a project—and in some instances knock it completely off track.

The solution is to establish and follow a regular communication plan between the office and remote workers. Regularly scheduled check-in times help all team members stay on top of things. These can be as simple as individual or team meetings where each employee provides project updates and deals with any questions that arise.

Because all of the attorneys I supervise work remotely, I ask for a weekly email update on the status of their case. Putting it in writing forces the attorney to concretize their work before we speak, preventing confusion or vagueness about a case’s progress. It also enables me to share it with other parties in a way that prevents misunderstandings.

Attorneys are busy people and since I’m paying for their time, I like to ensure their complete attention when talking with them. To do this I hold regular video-chats with them. The meetings aren’t long. I keep them to 10-15 minutes unless we have to dive more deeply into an issue.

An additional advantage to my process is that if an attorney isn’t sending weekly emails, regularly fails to get the camera working on a chat, or is overly laconic in a meeting, I can get a sense of whether they are progressing on the case or if they need help.

Another way to stay on top of developments is to use case management software that contains an efficient reports feature. Doing so helps all parties, especially remote workers, stay abreast of case developments. It even lets you track employee performance.

If you prefer texting over emails and phone calls for updates and reminders, try Text-to-Case-File. It’s convenient and enables you to send and receive texts directly from a case’s digital file. It keeps team members in the loop, lets them respond in a timely manner when needed, and keeps messages from being lost or forgotten.

 

Document Movement

Waiting for an important document to be edited is a common bottleneck in the legal process, and even more so when it involves a remote worker. The more parties involved in editing, the more time consuming and frustrating it can become.

Fortunately, Filevine’s Edit-in-Place tool makes the process simpler and less time-consuming. Instead of editing a document, attaching it to an email and sending it off, and then waiting for the other party to review and make changes, Edit-in-Place connects your Filevine account with MS Office on your device. You can open a document, make changes, hit “Save” and automatically store the new version to your file.

Maybe you want someone’s opinion on a document, but not their edits? Edit-in-Place allows you to control who can make changes by granting or withholding access.

In the old days, unless all the parties were in the same room, signing documents meant faxing or emailing signature pages back and forth. No more. Now signing is a breeze with Vinesign; a simple 3-step process for creating, filling, and signing PDFs of important documents.

With Vinesign, documents can be sent via text message—increasing the likelihood of being seen in a timely manner. The party receiving the text can open the document and sign it right on their mobile device. Verification that the correct party signed can be done by taking a selfie that is automatically attached to the file.

Some of the attorneys I’ve worked with, particularly in foreign countries, still use fax machines. It worked for them but was often a hassle on my end. A better solution is Filevine Fax. With it, you can easily send and receive generated or uploaded documents directly from your Filevine account to any fax-enabled number.

Filevine Fax also helps you manage your faxing lines by adding new fax numbers or reassigning existing ones. It also provides notifications of the status of incoming or outgoing fax via text or email.

 

Document Accessibility

More than once, I’ve arranged a meeting or presentation only to have someone forget to bring an important document. It is embarrassing, wastes valuable time and often results in contacting someone who can send the document over via fax or email—or even rescheduling the meeting.

With a cloud-based document management system, you have access to all of your case file documents in any place at any time. It’s quick and easy to use and your documents are secure.


 

Before Covid-19 forever altered how we do our jobs, almost five million U.S. employees worked remotely. That number will surely rise in the future as more companies recognize and accept the benefits of remote work for their operations and employees.

More people working remotely means more opportunity for bottlenecks to arise in work processes. Fortunately, utilizing the right case-management software will enable you to prevent bottlenecks from occurring and shorten disruptions when they do.