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Lexis+ AI
Nicola Jones

Barrister, Athena Professional

A working Christmas

A working Christmas


Nicola Jones suggests how reimagining festive celebrations could be a virtual gift to clients and staff

Lawyers and legal service professionals, like everyone else in the UK, are reimagining what it means to celebrate this year.

Whether its Diwali, Hanukkah or Christmas, the pandemic has thrown traditional ideas of office fun quite literally, for six.

It’s easy to focus on what is lost rather than what is possible.

The challenge is to be resilient and adaptable: to represent and reframe the party season and deliver something meaningful in a totally new way.

The Law Society’s excellent report, Horizon Scanning: Digital futures (June 2020), suggests that among the barriers to adopting technology in the legal sector are “human characteristics including pride, lack of willingness to learn and resistance to change”.

How about the profession surprises itself by taking a risk and doing something previously untried this Christmas?

Could this be the ‘creative Christmas’? Creativity, collaboration and empathy are core business skills for the 21st century, according to the World Economic Forum.

Bringing people together to celebrate in new ways requires all three.

In person, we rely on the lubrication of festive spirits – literal or metaphorical – to allow us to let go of day to day stress.

The time of year brings permission to be a bit more human. Clients often enjoy seeing the human side of their professional advisers.

Doing something creative has a significant impact on stress levels. It offers a way of accessing a whole realm of problem solving and sense making which we can miss in our busy, wordy legal lives.

If ever there was a time for real connection over getting through another year together, it is 2020. Boosting morale by some means would be a godsend.

Promoting wellbeing is a valuable end in itself. What’s more, being able to demonstrate new ways of working to clients in a festive format has got to be worthwhile.

Let’s face it, this will not be a time for spending huge amounts of cash. Happily, working virtually is cost effective and sustainable.

So – how do you have creative celebrations online? One thing to do is ditch your usual expectations of virtual working.

After the scramble to get online, many firms are still in coping mode and are barely scratching the surface of the functionality of the platforms they are using.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the best you can hope for is a Zoom quiz. Second, don’t be limited to the virtual format alone.

People who work remotely will appreciate receiving something physical, so take the time to send a parcel to your colleagues.

It need not contain expensive items (and remember, most of the cost will be in the postage). So get smart, be inclusive and go for eco-friendly gifts where possible.

Third, remember that you do not have to do one thing; you can offer a range of activities and opportunities to talk at different events.

With a little planning and structure, you can bring people together. Remember that, for some, the virtual medium will feel more inclusive.

For every extrovert who relishes the opportunity to vocalise the fun they are having, there is a deeply sociable introvert who prefers to take a more measured approach to expressing themselves and would probably appreciate not being drowned out for once (full disclosure: I’m an extrovert).

Co-creation works beautifully online. With some expert facilitation you can get people singing, drawing, writing spoken word poetry, creating collages and many other things which are enjoyable, support wellbeing and create connection.

More boisterous options are available: do virtual escape rooms or online drumming sound appealing? 

Clients and colleagues are going to remember how they were treated during the pandemic for a long time.

Once the employment market becomes mobile again, the fact that your firm took the trouble to demonstrate real care for people, especially at Christmas, will be remembered.

Seasonal festivities give us permission to let down our hair and show a little more of who we really are.

And we may just surprise ourselves by enjoying doing something new.

Nicola Jones is a director of Athena Professional @NooJones



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