I left the traditional law practice where I had been working as a partner, in 1996. Why? I wanted a different way of working. I wanted to pursue a new road that I thought would help a legal firm operate more effectively as we approached the 21st Century. Fifteen years on and I think I have achieved a certain degree of success. The practice is doing well, it remains a model different from many other firms – perhaps my biggest surprise is that a greater number of others have not yet seen the light. Among the benefits of the model which sees senior level family lawyers working to cover a huge chunk of England, offering a service built around the client and using new technology to speed things up as much as possible, is the fact that the solicitors work from their own home offices. Time and again my team talk about flexibility and the work/life balance that this approach favours. It also saves cost in terms of fuel, congestion on the roads and the stress of the commute. This last point brings me to the crux of it. A recent Swedish study showed that those who have more than a 45-minute commute each day are up to 40 per cent more likely to divorce – particular in the first few years of marriage. There are said to be a number of reasons for this. One is that it could lead to a swift decline in relations as the dream of marriage gives way to the reality of everyday life, taking the sheen off things. It also means that if someone is spending longer commuting, they are more likely to come home grumpy and/or too tired to do their share around the house – or anything else! Now I appreciate that not all professions lend themselves to working from home but in the digital age, it has never been easier. So there you have it. If we want to reduce the divorce rate and improve the working environment, follow my lead and encourage flexible working from home offices! Andrew Woolley Family Solicitor
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