Practical tips for legal practitioners working from home

June 1st, 2020

In his address to the nation on 23 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa (SA) would be placed under lockdown in an attempt to stop the further spread of COVID-19 in SA.

During the lockdown period, most legal practitioners have been forced to work from home. Working from home undoubtedly comes with various challenges for both employees and employers. We have accordingly formulated a few tips, from our own experience, which we have found to be beneficial when working from home.

  • Create a task list, which indicates those tasks that you need to complete by the end of the day or during the week. It is easier to continue working productively from home when you have clearly identified tasks that you need to complete. You may consider noting your tasks on a notepad and marking them as ‘completed’ as you proceed with your tasks. At the end of the day, you can revisit your notepad to ensure that you have completed all the tasks that you set out to achieve during the day and you can adjust your task list for the next day accordingly.
  • Create or designate a workstation at home. It is important that the workstation is comfortable and presents you with minimal distraction. Working with the television in view may not be conducive for a productive working day, especially if you are easily distracted.
  • Manage your time, especially considering the number of tasks scheduled for the day. Do not take extended breaks if you cannot afford to do so. Rather use additional time to work on earlier uncompleted tasks or tasks that must be performed at a later stage. Get ahead while you have the opportunity.
  • Stay hydrated. It helps to maintain concentration levels. Also, avoid big meals and alcohol during the day, especially with your bed now being more accessible than ever.
  • Where possible, try to stick to a normal working day routine. This entails getting out of your sleepwear and getting into a work mind set.
  • Consider using a communication platform to liaise with colleagues and to mentor and supervise candidate legal practitioners. Platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, allow you to work collaboratively with individuals or groups. For video conferencing, you may consider using platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom.
  • To avoid distraction, place your phone on silent while you are working.
  • Finally, when the time comes to switch off, try to do so without feeling guilty or thinking about your work. Relax, you deserve it.

Odwa Nweba LLB (UFH) Compliance Management (UCT) and Nikita Roode LLB (Stell) are legal practitioners at the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2020 (June) DR 6.