Staying in control when you’re out of the office

Monday 31 July, 2023

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Your holiday is meant to relieve your stress, but if you’re worried that the firm isn’t going to effectively in your absence, then there’s no chance of unwinding. Even when they’re not at work, practice managers often can’t keep their minds off their law firms, constantly asking themselves:

  • Are people doing what they need to do? How do I know?
  • Are they meeting their deadlines?
  • Can I access the systems if I’m needed in an emergency?
  • Can I make sure people aren’t falling behind without checking in every day?
  • Is everything still compliant?
  • How can I quickly get up to speed when I’m back?

Can you keep control when you’re away for the summer? Better yet, is there a way to feel comfortable letting it go for a while?

Summer productivity worries

It’s not simply that you’re not there to observe the progress of cases. Summer means a 20% dip in productivity for a lot of businesses, so you can easily worry that progress isn’t happening.

At the same time, other members of staff aren’t necessarily in the office either. 88% of hybrid workers intend to change their work setting in the summer and work remotely in the UK or abroad. That might make collaboration less smooth.

Hybrid work has left a lot of practice managers having to coordinate teams who aren’t in the same place. Can you count on that coordination happening without you?


Compliance is everyone’s problem, but not everyone takes responsibility.

When people are used to letting the COFA and COLP handle everything to do with compliance, practice managers are forced to remind teams that they have to maintain compliance standards as well. It’s an obvious worry that standards will slip in their absence.

If the practice manager also happens to be one or both of COFA and COLP, and they’re on holiday, then there’s the additional concern that the ultimate compliance safeguard is absent from the firm.

Long term, the change needed might be cultural, but are there procedural changes that can give a practice manager confidence in the short term?

Picking things up

Not every practice manager has the tools to intervene from afar if the firm needs them urgently. They might not have secure access to files, which means they can’t give practical help if there’s a firm emergency or unforeseen event.

Neither is it always easy to pick things back up when returning from holiday. It often involves sending lots of emails asking about the progress of cases. That is a time-consuming task which can leave information scattered through an inbox, among unread messages that arrived during annual leave, and the questions that pour in on your return.

That can also be exacerbated by a hybrid workforce. If your systems are set up for efficiency, it can feel far more efficient to speak in person and gather multiple updates in one conversation, but remote work means there are fewer opportunities to do that.

Summer blues: the risks to morale and recovery

If any member of staff feels that they can’t relax on their time off, then of course their wellbeing and the quality of their work will suffer on their return. At the same time, their colleagues will find it extremely demoralising to find their practice manager checking in on them from leave, communicating that the team is ineffective or untrustworthy without them.

How can you fix these problems – and tackle underlying challenges?

The Summer holiday season can be a good time to scrutinise your practices ways of working and how effectively things are really running. The systems you have in place can make all the difference. If you have platforms and processes that force compliance and measurability, you’ll find it much easier to continue efficient ways of working regardless of whether you, or others on the team, are in the office or overlooking the ocean.

How are you keeping your firm ticking over efficiently while you’re out of the office? Whether it’s causing you stress or you have everything covered, share your experience.

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