I get a lot of questions about my watch. And occasionally I overhear interesting comments.
“Mommy, why is that lady yelling at her arm?”
“I don’t know sweetie, but don’t make eye contact.”
Technology is amazing, and when it works the way it’s supposed to, it can make us more efficient. But there are always issues, no matter how good the technology is. Take my watch, for example.
Powerful. Efficient. Car Safe.
I wear a Samsung Gear 2. Yes, it is plastic and looks a little like the Timex watches we wore back in the days of Members Only jackets, but it is the most powerful tool I have for increasing my efficiency at work and allowing me more time at home. I use it while I am in court, while I am on the road, and when I am in meetings. I do not miss important emails or texts as they come in, because I am in a place where taking out my phone to check would be rude or illegal.
The Gear 2 syncs with my Samsung Note 3. It also syncs with my car. That means I never have to take my eyes off the road if I want to make a call, or listen to a text. Its only real shortcoming is the inability to read me emails. But that is a small limitation. Most emails are too long and too full of information for me to safely process while I am driving, so I do not miss this functionality as much as some people would.
Our firm works with tech companies, staffed by younger generation workers, who use text messages for more than just communication with their friends. A Pew Research center study shows that “fully 95% of 18-29 year olds use the text messaging feature on their phones, and these users send or receive an average of 87.7 text messages on a normal day.”[i] The Gear 2 allows me to receive these messages, no matter where I am.
I know you are asking why this is applicable to you and your firm, but trust me, it is. As we age, the clients we work with will expect us to keep up with relevant technology. In fact, many of the younger techies I work for have a distrust of older people who do not use the technology that my clients have grown up using. They cannot understand why you cannot respond to an important inquiry, just because you are not in the office right now. And they cannot understand why you don’t have access to their files on the fly. They need the instant gratification that comes with technology.
We run a virtual office. My partner, Rebecca Babb, and I use iPads to access files in the courtroom, reducing the amount of paper we need to carry with us every day. We use the Note3 to read, edit, convert, and send documents from wherever we are. And we use the Gear 2 to stay in constant contact.
I have not always worked in a virtual environment. The last firm I worked for had much older, and therefore incredibly cumbersome, technology. It was outdated and made working from home, or vacation, or anywhere else, nigh-on impossible. I worked a lot more hours in those days. But because we choose to use the technology available to us, Rebecca and I have more time off now. I do not have to wait until after court to read and respond to questions. I do not have to wait until I get back to the office to make a minor change in a document and resend it. I can do all of this while I sit in a courtroom. This means I have significantly less lost time than many of my colleagues.
There are times that the watch does not understand commands, or acts on a command in a way that makes no sense. And occasionally I have to yell at it, hence the conversation between the little girl and her mom, above. But overall, I find the Gear 2 to be a lifesaver for me. I work all over the state and my average day starts before 6:00 a.m. and gets me back to the office around noon. If I did not have this technology, I would lose all of those hours of driving and court time. And I would spend an equal number of hours in the office each evening trying to catch up with what I couldn’t do during that time.
One Particular Downside
The downside is that you are always available. No matter where you are or what you are doing, your clients expect an immediate response. Moreover, when you train them to expect that immediate response, they will have a harder time understanding why you have not gotten back to them. Most of the young techies I deal with respect boundaries. They want time away from their work, and unless it is an emergency, they will avoid contacting you after hours and on the weekends.
Newer users are not always so well trained. So while it’s true that I can read and send a text message while on the road, or laying by the pool on vacation, I don’t always want to. On those occasions, I take off the watch and set the phone to intercept all calls, unless they are coming from family. I can avoid having the phone ring, seeing a client’s number, and going through the internal, “I know it’s my day off, but should I take this? What if it’s important?” struggle that so many of us face. It forces me to walk away from the office and spend time with my family. This is possible only because I did my research and chose technology that had the functionality I needed.
If you are thinking about upgrading your technology, to allow your staff and yourself to be more productive, I suggest you spend a lot of time researching and learning about the benefits. Many attorneys seem to be frustrated with the tech they bought, because it was not the magic pill they thought it would be. So ask around, and learn as much as you can. I have yet to see another attorney who uses Gear, and most of the ones I know can’t see how it could help, but it can, and all you have to do is ask someone who uses it, to find out how.