As advances in technology and cyber security evolve, so do the opportunities to work remotely on document review projects. While benefits such as a 15 second commute or never having to eat another fast food burger for lunch again may seem compelling, the truth is that telecommuting may not be the right fit for everyone. If you are being considered for a remote project, here are a few things to think about before you say, “yes.”
Procrastinators Need Not Apply
Everyone wants to hire “self-starters” who are willing to go the extra mile. For the remote worker, it is sometimes hard to demonstrate your productivity with anything other than your numbers. This means you can expect your supervisor to be continually monitoring your pace. He will be looking to see how long it takes to review each document and if there are gaps in your productivity. In order to avoid having your supervisor draw the wrong conclusion about your pace, make sure you log off and record your breaks. Likewise, if you are having issues with a particular document, be sure to communicate with your supervisor and discuss the situation candidly. This is much better than having blocks of time where the system records you as being idle.
You Are Only as Good as Your Technology
In a world where we pay bills and shop for groceries on our phones, home computers are being used less and less for everyday tasks. Before signing on for a remote document review, it is important to confirm your home office technology is up to date and functioning properly. Many hours can be lost dealing with crashing computers, software upgrades, maintenance reboots and slow internet connections. Since you cannot bill the client for hours spent dealing with such issues if they relate to your personal hardware, it is always wise to ask for the system requirements and capability specs well in advance of the project start date. If it looks like your system is not fully compatible, you should consider upgrading your technology or skipping the project altogether. While no one ever wants to turn down an opportunity, a poor pace or productivity rating on a remote review may keep you from being asked to participate in future projects.
A Distraction Free Work Zone
While many employees who work remotely will argue there are fewer distractions at home than in a busy office environment, for some the opposite can be true. Whether it is the kids, the mailman, the dog barking at the mailman, the TV, music, laundry, or any one of a whole host of things that can cause you to lose focus, the net result is a negative impact on your productivity, pace and, in all likelihood, your accuracy. If you know these things can derail you, work smart and do what you can to remove them from your environment. For example, if you put in a movie to create background noise, it is a good idea to make sure it’s not your favorite film. Likewise, Rover can stay if you are certain he does not care about the doorbell or he cannot hear it.
Private Work Space
Not only should your workspace be free of distractions, but it also needs to be private. If you need to take a break and visit the local coffee shop, leave the laptop at home. Public places such as Internet cafés and libraries are not an option for remote document reviews. Confidential information needs to stay confidential. You and only you should have access to the documents throughout the entire engagement. If other family members share the computer, be sure to log off properly and record your breaks accordingly.
The Hours – Be Predictable
For a traditional office worker, showing up at the office 30 minutes early – even if it is just to socialize – may position the worker as a go-getter in the eyes of the boss. Unfortunately, for the remote worker, there is no ability to leverage face time. The remote worker needs to be available when their supervisor pings them with an email to avoid the perception of being unreliable. The best way for this to happen is work predictable and consistent hours. This does not mean you have to take your breaks at the same exact minute each day but it does mean you should try to be as consistent as possible. You should also communicate your schedule to your supervisor and be sure to alert him to changes. If you have to alter your schedule for things like doctor’s appointments, school emergencies, etc., the key is to keep your supervisor informed and stick to your word.
When working remotely, consistent and effective communication with your supervisor is very important. Be sure to check emails regularly and to respond promptly when asked for input. Even if you don’t have an immediate answer, it is important that you at least acknowledge receipt of the request and manage expectations by letting them know when they can expect an answer.
There can be a number of benefits to working on a review project from home. However, being a successful remote reviewer requires preparation, great communication skills and a high level of discipline throughout the entire engagement.
Written by Leigh Novack, Executive Director of Legal Recruitment, JURISolutions Legal (JSL)