Though some solos are perfectly happy to operate as an army of one, others look forward to the day when their workload and revenues justify hiring that first associate. But even when that day that a solo can afford an associate’s salary is tantalizingly close, once they sit down and do the numbers — tacking on the added overhead for office and equipment, and liability insurance — they may find that they fall ten or twenty thousand dollars short.
Now solos in this situation can take heart. That’s because many of the new workplace trends described in this article by Ian Wallis may help mitigate the increase in overhead that a new hire may cause and in so doing, may make that new associate seem more affordable.
According to Wallis, one prominent trend that will continue to grow in 2017 is that “more employees will use their own technology.” As Wallis describes:
Digital natives’ have already blended their work and home lives and are forerunners of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. [A recent survey] found that almost three out of four businesses already allow or plan to allow employees to use personal devices for work. In 2015, the global BYOD and enterprise mobility market was said to be worth $106.4bn but will more than triple in size to $360bn by 2020.
On top of that, increasingly, employees are accustomed to working from home at least part of the time. That trend matters to solo and small firms for two reasons. First, if a lawyer is only coming into the office part time, a solo may be able to forego renting a dedicated office. Moreover, because the associate can telecommute part of the time, a solo practicing in an expensive urban area might be able to attract talent that lives farther away in a lower cost area who might be more willing to accept a lower salary if they only had to commute to the office once a week.
Finally, if you’re concerned that clients will look askance at these kinds of seemingly ad hoc arrangements, that’s no longer the case either. As Wallis reports,
The shared economy has led to the rise of businesses starting up within the premises of other companies that have spare desks to sub-let. Marketplaces such as Hubble enable small businesses to co-habit. More formalised co-workspaces, such as We Work, Co-Work, and Workspace Group are growing their network of offices rapidly.
In short, by relying on co-working and flexible workspace, you’ll be more in synch with many of your clients.
Of course, the cost of office space and a computer is small compared to an associate’s salary and malpractice coverage. Even so, in some situations, even these minor savings may be enough to make hiring a new associate workable from a financial perspective.