So, as far as I can tell, we are in the new normal and that involves hybrid work environments for lawyers. I was visiting lawyers recently and their office park in Montgomery County was 90% empty of cars. That is the same for my large suburban office park. This should not be news to youse. This is my experience as well. Something is lost by not being in the office, but it is along the lines of productivity or efficiency or institutional sharing of information and experience. Every large employer I hear about is trying to nudge its employees back to work on some regular basis.
Law firms on the other hand are having a harder time of it, particularly where the more senior lawyers prefer working from home. I would guess it is pretty tough to convince a new law school grad that it is important to their career development that they come into the office, when their partner level colleagues are still working from home. I have spoken to a series of newly minted lawyers who found it very disorienting working from home as new lawyers. They had no idea how to be a lawyer, what their job was, what to do etc. While we could chalk it up to training failures, really, lawyering is often learned by knocking on someone more senior’s door and asking how to handle a situation.
A lot of event planners, charities, and other organizations that either raise money by gathering groups or whose purpose is to put its alumni or members together are struggling to figure out what the new normal means for these events. I have recently attended some events that were fully subscribed and came off without a hitch and have seen others cancel due to lack of RSVP’s, where that was never a problem in the past. It is simply a changed world and figuring it out when you are trying to network or fundraise or get a group together is going to be a continuing challenge.