Many of us have quickly adapted to spending the past 12 months working from home, however for those handling property transactions there were regulatory and legal barriers to overcome as well as mastering Zoom.
X-Press Legal Services is a property search firm with a network of 26 regional offices and recently polled its conveyancing clients to discover the pros and cons of working from home during the lockdown.
Top of the list for the ‘pros’ of working from home for conveyancers was the improved work/life balance with the removal of the daily office commute giving them more time. Many also felt that there were less distractions at home like the constant ringing of telephones and that this made them more productive, which had a positive knock-on effect of an increase in chargeable time.
However, most conveyancers struggled with home technology with many missing the office printer and had to pop into the office regularly to collect files and post. Not only did they miss their office facilities, but conveyancers also missed spending time with their work colleagues – citing isolation as one downside to home working. Many also found it difficult to ‘switch off’ from work and worked longer hours to juggle childcare and home schooling.
However, in a highly regulated environment, conveyancers working remotely have seen a rise in cybercrime. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said it witnessed a 300% increase in phishing scams in the first two months of lockdown alone with a large number of lawyers working from home. Last year X-Press Legal Services was the first search firm to be awarded the government backed Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation, the highest standard achievable following assessment of their systems and procedures.
Lynne Lister, Managing Director of X-Press Legal Services: “We were fortunate to have had the foresight to heavily invest in our online services from the outset. Our fully compliant web-based case management system and intelligent online conveyancing system (ICOS) is used by over 500 solicitors and conveyancing firms in England and Wales. To have achieved the Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation during lockdown was added reassurance for clients that their data was secure with us.
“The pandemic propelled us to launch innovative new digital services for our clients including an app for secure remote client onboarding. This enabled many to move away from the need for traditional paper-based identity checking which was cited as a ‘con’ for clients having to pop into the office to review paperwork.”
X-Press Legal Services also switched all of its CPD training sessions to webinars which proved incredibly popular. The first training event in April last year saw over 400 delegates and blew previous event attendance out of the water.
“As we work towards the reopening of offices, we expect to see a blended approach to the workplace. The pandemic has given us all a fast-track to a new way of working, which probably wouldn’t have happened for another five years at least. Half of the conveyancing clients we spoke to are now contemplating continuing working from home fulltime and its reassuring for them to know that they can do so safely and securely.”