Hogan Lovells targets September for flexible return to UK offices

Firm cites ‘considerable benefits’ to office-based work as it adopts regional policy
London, UK - July 24, 2018: Hogan Lovells London headquarter in The Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct, London. Hogan Lovells is an international law firm co-headquartered in London and Washington, D.C.

Hogan Lovells' London office Shutterstock, phaustov

Hogan Lovells has become the latest leading law firm to outline its return-to-office plan for its UK workforce as part of a regional return to office policy for its international workforce.

With the UK government gearing up to end most lockdown restriction on 19 July, Hogan Lovells has stated that the majority of its UK lawyers and staff will be expected to spend a minimum 60% of their working hours in the office starting in mid-September. It will also be possible for more staff to return to the office during the summer months if they wish, the offices having remained open over the course of the pandemic in-line with government guidance for specific work requirements.

The firm said in a statement: ‘We believe there are considerable benefits to office-based working, such as collaboration, fostering a spirit of teamwork, knowledge sharing and training, which are fundamental to our ability to do our best work and deliver great results for our clients.’

Hogan Lovells said it will, however, will fully support those who wish to implement a greater degree of flexibility into their work weeks once the office return plan is in full swing, adding that it will continue to build on its ‘strong foundation’ surrounding flexible working arrangements it established when agile working became part of its global firm policy in 2016.

Based on their roles, employees will be able to ‘agree the best working plan for their individual circumstances’ with their manager. Hogan Lovells is adopting a regional return-to-office approach for its global office network, which includes roughly 50 locations across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa. It currently has two UK locations with offices in London and Birmingham.

With this announcement, the transatlantic firm joins a number of other firms introducing flexible working policies to prepare for life beyond the pandemic. In April, Clifford Chance finalised its long-term UK agile working policy, with lawyers and staff expected to evenly split their hours between the firm’s offices and working remotely, providing the role allows for it.   

Magic circle rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also opted to phase in a 50% work-from-home policy in March, while Allen & Overy said it would require its lawyers and staff to spend 60% of their time in the firm’s UK offices once restrictions are lifted.

Last week, regional firm TLT said it would forgo setting a formal office return date, instead introducing a ‘fully flexible’ working plan that includes a two-year multi-million pound investment programme to develop new telecommunications and IT solutions to improve its digital tools offering for its lawyers and staff.

In the US, Reed Smith, White & Case and Goodwin Proctor are among leading firms to have set September as the target for a largescale return to office work, albeet under more flexible regimes.

Research conducted in February by Global Legal Post found that more than three quarters of business lawyers are anticipating a permanent shift to home working once lockdown restrictions end.

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