The work from home debate has been re-ignited in the media this week courtesy of Yahoo’s decision to abolish its “work at home” policy. In a move to increase creativity and innovation, Yahoo employees have been ordered back to the office.
However, how will this move impact productivity?
As reported in the New York Times (“Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office” by Claire Cain Miller and Catherine Rampell, published February 25, 2013), there are studies on this very point.
“Studies show that people who work at home are significantly more productive but less innovative, said John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University who runs a human resource advisory firm. “If you want innovation, then you need interaction,” he said. “If you want productivity, then you want people working from home.””
This geographic debate is alive and well in the field of document review as well. Specifically, is it better to have a review team together and collaborating on site, or to have them at home individually focused on the documents, free from distraction? It’s an interesting question.
The answer may often be a hybrid approach. Keep the team together for the first week of the review. This allows the team to obtain immediate answers to the numerous questions that arise during the early stages of a project, and allows for coding instruction changes and technical support on the fly while the team becomes familiar with the records.
However, to maximize productivity, send the team home after the first week. This allows review lawyers to work free from the group distractions, eliminates the commute, and permits them to work when they are individually most productive and focused. After all, in the world of document review, unlike working for a tech company, productivity must reign over innovation.
Wortzman Nickle provides legal and corporate training on records management. We have provided comprehensive training courses to several law firms and other organizations to further their legal understanding of the importance of good records and information management, and its impact on the e-discovery process, as well as business efficiencies. Our Records Management A to Z seminar has been approved for accreditation by the Law Society of Upper Canada for both substantive and professionalism hours.
Records Management Basics slide deck
Last April, the defendants in Global Aerospace Inc. et al., v. Landow Aviation, L.P. dba Dulles Jet Center, et al. asked Judge James Chamblin, of the 20th Judicial Circuit Court of Virginia, for permission to use predictive coding to cull approximately 8 terabytes of data prior to review. Although the plaintiffs protested the validity of this technology, Judge Chamblin allowed it to be used on the conditions that (a) the production be completed within 120 days, and (b) the plaintiffs would be given the opportunity to challenge the results once they receive the records.
The predictive coding process reduced the 1.3 million records down to a manageable 173,000, which were reviewed and produced to the plaintiffs in October. At a hearing in December, the plaintiffs did not raise any objections to the production, paving the way for the court to okay the document set.
The process quantified the accuracy of both the culling and review of the records. The techniques used, combined with the predictive coding software’s built-in checks and balances, showed that 80% of the relevant records had been found. Recent studies, including the well know TREC initiative, have shown that manual review of large document collections generally identifies about 65% to 70% of the relevant records. This may have explained why the plaintiffs did not dispute the results. Clearly, combining manual review with technology incorporating appropriate checks is much more cost effective and just as accurate, if not more so, than using a manual process alone.