Charles Allen, Lorraine Tay, Eva Chan, Jennifer Parks​​​​​

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that working life will never be the same. Employees at all levels now show a preference for doing at least some of their work from home, and as a result, law firms have begun introducing hybrid working policies. Leaders say that taking a focused approach is key to balance both productivity needs and employee well-being.





Like other law firms, RPC has grappled with a post-pandemic world in which flexibility has become as revered as other more traditional benefits a corporate can offer, such as career progression and remuneration.

In January 2021, we launched the SparkOurFuture hybrid working initiative to understand how and where our people work best and concluded we would focus on principles, not rules. We have not mandated a firmwide approach to flexible working and indeed it is down to individuals, teams, and clients’ needs to set working patterns that work for them.

SparkOurFuture applies globally and is embraced by all our Asia-based people who have the choice to work from home or in the office on a given day. Both are encouraged and supported within our hybrid working principles.

We understand that working from home can improve well-being, promote a better quality of life and improve productivity.

At the same time, we still encourage all the benefits of working from an office, such as socialising with colleagues, collaboration, and learning. As such, we really can offer our people the best of all worlds.

As for challenges, RPC has offices in London, Bristol, Hong Kong, and Singapore, a host of legal global partners and a client list as diverse as our staff, so our biggest challenge was ensuring that any new working arrangement suited each one of our stakeholders.

SparkOurFuture has allowed us to shift where and how we work, while maintaining exceptional client service. We have undertaken surveys and consultations across all our offices to better understand the needs of our employees and educated our people and other stakeholders on how our policy will work through training and internal communication.

We have even trained recruiters who work with us to ensure that any potential hires fully understand our different hybrid model.


LORRAINE TAY, joint managing partner, Bird & Bird ATMD

The pandemic has certainly paved the way towards more hybrid working with corporations and firms alike adjusting their working arrangements. At Bird & Bird, we have also embraced flexible hybrid working – we have a global agile working policy in place where employees can spend at least 50 percent of their time in the office, based on client and business needs. We’ve also developed training programmes and resources on how to effectively manage hybrid teams on both a local and global level. To ensure that such hybrid working can continue to be effective and deliver benefits to the employee and our firm, it’s important that this is founded on trust, a sense of ownership and accountability and of course, ensuring regular communication between supervisors, peers and their teams.

We believe that this flexible approach toward office and home working, supported by our sophisticated technology infrastructure, will enable employees to perform at optimal levels, in alignment with the needs of the firm, whilst maintaining the much-desired flexibility to enhance better time management and at the same time, provide a good work-life balance.

Hybrid working understandably presented a few initial challenges. With remote working, it has become even more important to ensure effective communication, to find ways to continue to encourage brainstorming sessions, and ensure that we do not dilute the “human touch” with our colleagues and clients. All these elements are important in an industry like ours that thrives on effective communication, teamwork and collaboration. With reduced face-to-face interaction amongst colleagues in a hybrid work setting, it can be more challenging to establish and maintain vibrant company culture, or foster a strong sense of camaraderie, as opportunities for human interaction are reduced. This can be particularly tough for new joiners.

Having said that, technological advancements have also made it easy for us to adapt, and many are more comfortable with virtual meetings and just connecting online. It’s even easier for us to now reach out and get to know our colleagues and clients in other parts of the world. Going forward, there is a heightened consciousness and desire to continue to provide a working environment that suits all, one that promotes a friendly, diverse, collaborative, and inclusive culture where everyone can feel a sense of belonging.


EVA CHAN, head of Hong Kong office, Simmons & Simmons

At Simmons & Simmons we are dedicated to supporting different approaches to juggling work, family, and life responsibilities. This has been the case for many years; we introduced flexible working arrangements at an early stage. For example, I worked from home two afternoons per week when I was pregnant 10 years ago, and took longer lunch periods when my children were young so that I could spend more time with them at home, which was near the office. Other parents elected to work certain days from home and to be clear this applied to fathers as well as mothers.

Allowing working from home is therefore not new to us and we coped very positively with the need to do so during the Covid waves in Hong Kong. Then, in 2021 we formalised a firmwide hybrid working scheme across our 22 offices. This allows most of us to work from home two to three days a week. The approach varies from office to office, but in Hong Kong, most of us are allowed to work from home for two days a week.

There are definitely challenges with the hybrid model, and these vary amongst seniority levels. Trainees and junior-level associates can find it difficult to embed into their new seats or departments without enough real-time with others. We have sought to strike a balance to support the WFH needs of their seniors while ensuring that the junior lawyers receive the same level of training and supervision per normal practices. To mitigate this issue, trainee solicitors and those with less than one year’s employment at the firm are required to be in the office for at least four days a week, to maximise collaboration opportunities and build up working relationships with their new colleagues.

While the partners are generally supportive of hybrid working, they are - of course - conscious of the importance of always maintaining high-quality work. This is paramount. For example, would the reduction of face time lead to inadequate supervision and consequently substandard client service? Our partners are highly aware of the need to ensure that this is avoided. It is also very important that confidentiality requirements are not breached through WFH arrangement and we have taken steps to ensure this. We also need to comply with local requirements: for example, the Law Society of Hong Kong generally prohibits solicitors from different firms to work on the same premises (such as when spouses both work from home) unless a waiver has been granted. We have proactively reminded all fee earners of all their regulatory obligations and we foster an environment of open and honest communication, whether in person or online.

At the end of the day, hybrid working is an exercise in trust from the perspective of the firm and its people. These arrangements will only work with mutual respect and professionalism from both parties. Our experience of hybrid working has been nothing short of phenomenal, and we are delighted that it’s now a permanent policy worldwide.


JENNIFER PARKS, Asia-Pacific chief operating officer, White & Case. 
For several years now, White & Case has had in place an Agile Work Policy which provides flexibility for all employees in managing their work and personal life. The policy allows employees to work in a way that takes into account of the needs of the firm, our clients and the individual. This includes the flexibility for employees to work remotely, with flexible hours, and in alternative locations. 
We also integrate the elements of hybrid and agile working into our new, expanded offices in both Hong Kong and Singapore, which we moved into in 2022. For instance, our Singapore office incorporates desk and work room sharing concept to accommodate our Agile Work Policy and high inter-office mobility across our global network.


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If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that working life will never be the same. Employees at all levels now show a preference for doing at least some of their work from home, and as a result, law firms have begun introducing hybrid working policies. Leaders say that taking a focused approach is key to balance both productivity needs and employee well-being.