Allen & Overy LLP, Finalist 2016, The American Express Best Flexible Working Initiative Award

Key features

  • A step beyond formal flexible working to a way of working that reflects a real flexible culture.
  • iFlex enables anyone to work from home on an ad hoc basis and it is possible without seeking permission.
  • Peerpoint is a global flexible resourcing for lawyers who want to work on shorter term contracts.
  • 91 per cent of the firm’s lawyers feel that they are able to work flexibly, an increase from 78 per cent in 2014.

Allen and Overy (A&O) understand that to have the most engaged and productive employees, work needs to adapt to integrate with other areas of people’s lives. The firm has had formal flexible working for many years but, with two more recent flexible working initiatives, A&O has now gone further to offer the broader range of flexibility that people are looking for.

Firstly, they introduced the A&O iFlex initiative in June 2015. iFlex allows anyone to work at home or from another location. iFlex is underpinned by guidelines which amount to less than one side of A4. These guidelines make clear that: there is no minimum or maximum number of days per week or per month that people can work remotely; people do not need to ask permission; and people should use their own judgement. Trust is seen as the single most important factor to make this work.

A&O did not pilot iFlex but rather launched it to all of their UK workforce on the same day, to ensure that – in areas of the business where there may be more resistance –  people felt they had permission to take advantage of ad hoc flexibility.

A&O does not measure uptake but hopes to see a year-on-year improvement in the scores relating to flexibility in their employee engagement survey. Since launching iFlex A&O’s staff engagement scores on the question of the extent to which staff are able to work flexibly have improved significantly. In particular the 2015 survey showed that 91 per cent of lawyers are satisfied with the ability to work flexibly, an increase from 78 per cent in 2014.

A&O has also introduced Peerpoint, their global flexible resourcing business established to give lawyers a way to contract on legal placements working within A&O and with A&O’s clients. It offers a career choice to those wanting to continue to work at a senior level in the legal profession but have more control over the work that they do. Peerpoint consultants work in a variety of ways, whether this is on full time placements with clients, part-time working with A&O practice groups or undertaking short term contracts.

Peerpoint satisfies a real business need. Within A&O, over 62 per cent of UK partners have now used the resource for work that needed a particular specialism, or to staff large deals, or to increase capacity during busy periods.

Peerpoint initially operated in London, and now operates in Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. In just over two years, A&O has grown the global panel to 131 lawyers globally. Of these lawyers, 46 per cent are A&O alumni and 35 per cent of the panel working part-time. 64 per cent of the panel are women.