Law Ruler April 2024
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Five Freaky Friday Workplace Trends

By Joan Feldman

Halloween weekend is here, and we’re all about the treats. But first, here are five spooky workplace trends to keep you on your toes.

1. Ghost Jobs (Boo!)

Ghosting — the trend of disappearing without a trace, whether deep-sixing a relationship, a job offer or any manner of commitment — has been enjoying a long moment. Of course, the phenomenon isn’t new. Remember “fading out”? And ghosts have long haunted the office space. For example, posting “ghost jobs” — jobs that are already filled or that never existed — is a tactic some recruiters and HR departments use to beef up their talent pool with qualified job candidates. They do this just in case they need to fill a position fast, explains HR Brew, but it’s a bad look. Why are we seeing so many ghosts right now — and are there better alternatives employers can use? Here are some excellent ideas.

Back to ghosting, there’s a better trend to take up this Halloween: Caspering is the art of letting someone down gently — being honest with people instead of fading out.

2. Disasters, Fast and Slow

You might think hurricanes and wildfires, but slower-moving disasters can fell your firm, too: illness, theft, employee lawsuits, computer malfunction. On the latest episode of the Digital Edge, Shawn Holahan, Practice Management Counsel for the Louisiana State Bar, joined podcast hosts Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson to discuss the nuts and bolts of keeping your firm afloat when all hell is breaking loose. In “Disaster Planning: It’s Not Just for Hurricanes,” Holahan says the best disaster plans prioritize two things: 1) Re-establishing communications with the world and 2) Accessing your client information. Keep your plan simple — don’t try to anticipate every issue because you have no idea what’s coming at you. When disasters happen, confusion reigns, she says. You’ll want a simple plan that gives you a clear head start establishing communications. “Once you have that done, you can be in a better position to take the incoming missiles and make the right decisions.” Listen here for great advice.

3. The Horror! TikTok Eats the World 

TikTok is taking over the world, and short-form video is a legitimate marketing tool — even for lawyers. But that doesn’t mean jumping on every viral TikTok trend, no matter how tempting. (See: Teenage Dirtbags, the Taylor Swift Anti-Hero challenge, lip-syncing).

Keep your brand and your TikTok goals in your sights — for example, the “Things I’d never do as a [blank]” trend might be a good fit — or a “duet” where you react to another TikToker’s “expert” tips.

Have fun out there, but remember what we tell the young: The internet is forever. And most lawyers just can’t pull off the dance moves. (Kidding. Everybody knows lawyers are excellent dancers.)

Here’s Annette Choti’s advice on creating short-form videos and another great article on Social Media Examiner with more tips. (For example, why it’s a good idea to choose one spokesperson.)

4. Ghost Town Resurrection

Even before the pandemic, some law offices had a reputation as ghost towns — lonely places where lawyers toiled away in paneled offices behind closed doors, rarely seen, and warrens of cubicles hid the doorless from view. Working remotely has heightened the sense of disconnection, of being together but alone. So, as firms rethink their real estate footprint and floorplans, some are looking at creating more collaborative, welcoming offices — where people feel more connected and productive. 

Enter the trend toward see-through, glass-enclosed offices.

Harrison Ford in a scene from “Working Girl.”

“I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me.”

As firms adopt hybrid work schedules, the thinking is that office hours are for teamwork and socialization, while focused work will happen at home, alone. Glass office walls inspire a more transparent (ahem) and collaborative environment — as well as more employee accountability (less loafing). And because glass makes rooms feel larger, office square footage can be reduced. Yay?

For all the benefits of being on full display, the downsides are … er … clear. 

Forget huddling behind closed doors for one-on-one private meetings, or ducking behind half walls to avoid the office chatterbox — or simply enjoying the distraction-free solace of your office. And, better stuff those emotions down deep inside and save the horrifyingly human things for the stairwell.

On the bright side, if we can see each other, maybe we really will feel less alone.

5. Attack of the Cyber Creeps

Finally, no Halloween post is complete without a reminder of the dark side of the internet. Cybercreeps, thieves and punks are real, and they are targeting smaller law firms at a disturbing rate. As Tom Lambotte reveals, their list of devious methods is expanding as well. Here’s his list of the top five ways cybercrooks will attack your computer and tips for reducing your chances of getting hit.

Happy Halloween from Attorney at Work. Be safe out there!

Photo by Mark Rall on Unsplash

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Joan Hamby Feldman Joan Feldman

Joan Feldman is Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of Attorney at Work, publishing “one really good idea every day” since 2011. She has created and steered myriad leading practice management and trade publications, including the ABA’s Law Practice magazine where she served as managing editor for a dozen years. Joan is a Fellow and served as a Trustee of the College of Law Practice Management. Follow her on LinkedIn and @JoanHFeldman.

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