Moving Forward with WFH

Empty seats sit beside powered-down desktop computer monitors in the Deutsche Bank AG offices in Eschborn, Germany, on Monday, May 25, 2020. The trickle of workers returning to Deutsche Banks Frankfurt headquarters are finding a new reality of takeout lunches and coffee as the lender restricts social contact.

“We’re not going back to pre-March, 2020 anytime soon. Quite frankly, I would argue that we’re probably never going back to what that looked like.” Says Jamie Berry, Litigation Business Unit Leader at Integron, while comparing the on-premises document review teams of the past to the remote workforce of the present.

“I’ll challenge Jamie a little bit on that,” responds HayStackID CISO John Wilson. “I think once the vaccines are out there, we’ll find pretty cheap commercial real estate and some of our document review partners may want to put 20 or 40 contract reviewers back into a room together. I don’t think that’s a bad idea.”

Both document-review veterans make fair points, and it’s impossible to say whose prediction will hold true. There are litigations whose complexity necessitate no less than a team of attorneys sitting in one room, working together. At the same time, the genie is out of the bottle on people saving their commute. The post-vaccine future is most likely to bring a hybrid of remote and on-premises work. When a team is dealing with content so sensitive or intricate that they would work best in the same space, that’s likely going to happen. When there are projects – and there will be – that lend themselves easily to a remote workforce, that will likely happen too. 

Jordan Ellington, founder and CEO of SecureReview, encourages a hybrid workforce. “Pre COVID, SecureReview was looking to support a distributed workforce, but it wasn’t a popular concept,” he says. “Back then everything needed to be on site. So a silver lining about COVID-19 is that it accelerated the future. Here we are, we’ve demonstrated that we can work remotely and safely. This will bring a lot of flexibility to legal workers and support the hybrid workforce which is which is here to stay.”

No matter what happens, one thing doesn’t change: the need for fool-proof information security and data loss prevention.

If, in a hybrid workforce, there are document review projects staffed by people from all over the country and world, it remains important to know where these people are. If someone decides to work from an Airbnb in Florida, it is unacceptable for documents to show up on the whole network of that person’s Air Bnb. In most imaginable futures, the issues that we’re dealing with now don’t change; we’re going to be living with them for a long time. 

This is part of a series based on the Legalweek 2021 Panel, WFH Cybersecurity Risk Management from a Legal, Business and IT Perspective. Watch the full talk here.