The Ultimate Guide to TUPE: What You Need To Know When Outsourcing To A UK BPO Supplier

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  • Business Continuity
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The Ultimate Guide to TUPE: What You Need To Know When Outsourcing To A UK BPO Supplier

We asked specialist HR Consultants Kane HR to write our guest blog this month, covering everything you need to know about TUPE and the considerations when outsourcing.

Robert Burden, Managing Consultant dives in with an overview, the pros and cons, and some top tips for managing TUPE effectively.

TUPE stands for the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations. Its purpose is to provide protection to employees who are transferring from one employer to another because of a business transfer or service provision change (SPC). It safeguards employee’s rights when there is a transfer of a business or service from one organisation to another and means that the grouping of employees concerned have a legal right to automatically transfer from one service provider to another on their existing terms and conditions of employment and with all their existing employment rights and liabilities intact, including their continuous service.

Under TUPE, both the current employer (“Transferor”) and receiving employer (“Transferee”) have a legal obligation to inform and consult with either elected employee representatives or a recognized trade union, if there is one present. Only in the event where there are fewer than 10 employees (and in the absence of elected representatives or a recognised trade union), should an organisation consider consulting directly with the individuals affected.

It’s important to remember that TUPE is a legal statute, therefore, even if it may seem that a business service provider can provide their services more efficiently, if the transfer falls within scope of the activities below, then TUPE is still likely to apply, and both organisations have a legal obligation to inform and consult. The following activities will indicate that TUPE is likely to apply.

  1. The activities that are currently being provided by a client are to be provided by a third-party provider. This is more commonly known as outsourcing.
  2. Activities currently provided by a contractor to a client are to be provided by a different third-party supplier to the same client, known as ‘contractor to contractor SPC’.

Options when handling TUPE

When choosing an outsourced provider, organisations are often looking for an effective and efficient solution, which can mean when TUPE applies there may be more staff currently doing the job than required if the work is to be outsourced.
In such instances, it is first important to establish which internal employees fall within the scope of the undertaking i.e. "fundamentally the same" as the activity to be carried out by the outsourced provider, it’s important to do this to prevent employees being assigned to a TUPE transfer who should not be affected.

Second is to understand your legal obligations to inform and consult regarding the transfer, it’s important to recognise that if found to have failed in fulfilling this obligation, liability could be both joint (i.e. shared between the transferee and transferor) and individual if taken to a tribunal.

Crucially, it is important to remember that any dismissal where the sole or principal reason is the transfer itself will be automatically unfair. However, there are of course practical and commercial considerations, that give options to handling structural changes during TUPE in a lawful, fair and practical way for all parties. One of these, is if the transferee envisages that there may be a potential redundancy situation by reason of economic, technical or organisational factors (ETO), and more on this is outlined further below.

In some cases, prior to TUPE it may be appropriate to offer staff members redeployment opportunities to other business areas or departments. Keep in mind that employees have a legal right to transfer, therefore, they may reject any offers.

As the current employer, there may be extenuating circumstances that result in a decision to provide individuals with an opportunity to exit from the business prior to the TUPE taking place, and generally this would form part of a settlement agreement. If considering this approach, it’s always best to seek independent employment law advice, as this wouldn’t mitigate from your obligation to inform and consult regarding the transfer.

If considering this approach, there is always the risk that the transferee could be liable for an unfair dismissal claim as they have not been privy to the agreement. In such cases, it may be an acceptable decision for all three parties (employee, transferor and transferee) that the employee does not transfer, and therefore a tripartite settlement agreement could be introduced to provide the necessary protection for all parties involved.

The commercial bits

When considering outsourcing arrangements, it's crucial to anticipate the potential impact of TUPE on the financial aspects of the agreement. One common strategy involves the inclusion of indemnification clauses in the commercial arrangement between the outsourcing organisation and the service provider.

Indemnification in the context of TUPE essentially means that the outsourcing organisation agrees to compensate the service provider for any additional costs incurred due to the transfer of employees under TUPE regulations. This can include expenses related to maintaining existing employment terms, addressing potential legal challenges, and handling administrative complexities associated with the transfer.

While the necessity of such indemnification clauses may not be immediately apparent, seasoned service providers recognise them as an essential aspect of risk management. They provide a safety net for service providers, ensuring that unexpected costs arising from TUPE do not become a financial burden that jeopardises the viability of the outsourcing arrangement.

It's important for both parties to engage in open and transparent discussions during the negotiation phase of the outsourcing agreement. Clearly defining the scope and limits of indemnification clauses, as well as detailing the specific scenarios under which indemnification would apply, lays the foundation for a successful and sustainable outsourcing relationship.

Redundancy situations?

We have covered that dismissal of an employee for the sole or principal reason of TUPE is unfair. However, certain circumstances may arise where the new service provider needs to make changes that could result in redundancies. This is where ETO reasons come into play. These changes are generally outlined within the measures of the new service provider, as part of the initial TUPE consultation process. Depending on what is agreed with the current employer, redundancy consultations could commence prior to the transfer taking place, with the view that redundancies are effective from the first day of an individual’s employment with the new service provider. Alternatively, the service provider may transfer employees, and then proceed with redundancy consultations afterwards.

ETO reasons refer to economic, technical, or organisational factors that entail changes in the workforce. These factors may necessitate alterations to the employment structure for the continued viability of the service that’s being provided. Here's a breakdown of each:

Economic Reasons: This involves situations where the employer faces financial challenges or restructuring to ensure the sustainability of the business. Cost-cutting measures, mergers, or market-driven changes fall under this category.
Technical Reasons: Changes in technology or the methods used to carry out work can trigger the need for workforce adjustments. This could include the introduction of new machinery or systems that render certain roles obsolete.
Organisational Reasons: Structural changes within the organisation, such as a shift in management or a restructuring of departments, might necessitate workforce realignment.

In addition to the above, it is very common for an employee’s place of work to change following a TUPE transfer. Where the change in location is significant this may also fall within scope of an ETO reason.
Where redundancy by reason of ETO could be a consideration, relevant legal advice should always be sought to ensure the correct consultation process is applied to avoid any potential unfair dismissal claims.

Positives of TUPE transfers for employees

• Preservation of terms - One of the key advantages for employees in a TUPE transfer is that their existing terms and conditions of employment are preserved.
• Job security -TUPE is designed to protect employees from losing their jobs because of a service transfer.
• Continuity of employment - TUPE ensures continuity of employment, meaning that the length of service with the current employer is usually carried over to the service provider.
• Protection against Unfair Dismissal - Employees transferred under TUPE are protected against unfair dismissal solely because of the transfer.

Negatives for employees in TUPE transfers

• Uncertainty and change - TUPE transfers often come with a degree of uncertainty and change. Employees may need to adapt to a new working environment, management style, and potentially different policies and procedures.
• Potential for redundancy - In certain situations, the service provider may identify ETO reasons that lead to redundancies.
• Integration challenges - Integration into a new culture and structure can be challenging. Employees may face difficulties adapting to new processes, procedures, and colleagues.
• Differences in employee benefits - While TUPE aims to preserve employment terms, there may be variations in benefit packages between the old and new employers.
• Limited control over the transfer - Employees have no direct control over the decision to transfer, and the process is often driven by the employers involved.

What if an employee doesn’t want to transfer?

Where there are employees who do not wish to transfer to the new service provider, they are entitled to refuse to do so. However, unless the individual can be redeployed, this would mean that their employment with the transferor comes to an end at the date of the transfer itself. Generally, the employee is not treated as having been dismissed, but having resigned. It is important to note that there are certain circumstances in which an employee could claim unfair dismissal, so it may be necessary to seek further advice if in this situation.

Although there is no specified manner in which an employee must refuse to transfer, it is sensible for the transferor to obtain the employee's refusal in writing, by way of the individual opting out of the transfer process.

Top Tips for managing TUPE effectively:

  1. Understand the situation as early as possible:
    Early awareness of an impending TUPE transfer is crucial for effective planning and communication. Understanding the scope, reasons, and potential impact allows for better decision-making and minimizes uncertainty among employees.
  2. Seek HR and Legal Advice:
    TUPE regulations are complex, and legal nuances can significantly impact the process. Seeking professional advice from HR and legal experts helps ensure compliance with UK Employment Law and provides guidance on best practice.
  3. Prepare a plan:
    A well-thought-out plan is essential for a smooth TUPE transfer. It helps anticipate challenges, allocate resources effectively, and ensures that key tasks are executed in a logical sequence.
  4. Obtain / Produce ELI (Employee Liability Information):
    Acquiring accurate and detailed information about the employees who will be transferring is crucial for planning and addressing potential issues. The ELI includes essential details about employment terms, contracts, and potential liabilities – legally this should be provided to the transferee no less than 28 days before the transfer date.
  5. Ensure you have plenty of time planned for consultations:
    Adequate time for consultations is vital for addressing employee concerns, providing information, and facilitating a smooth transition.

In summary, managing TUPE effectively requires a proactive and well-organised approach. By understanding the situation early, seeking professional advice, preparing a comprehensive plan, obtaining essential information, and allowing ample time for consultations, you can minimise the impact on employees and navigate the TUPE process with transparency and efficiency.

If you'd like to learn more about outsourcing your switchboard, connect with our team at

This is for information and guidance only, please always seek professional HR and legal advice.

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How to boost your profits-per-partner

  • Agile Working
  • Company Culture
  • Productivity
How to boost your profits-per-partner

Profits-per-partner is a crucial metric for success for law firms, as an indicator of financial health, profitability, competitiveness and rate of growth. In order to run an efficient and successful legal practice, it’s important that firms have the ability to focus on achieving optimal PPP. But the onset of hybrid working has made this harder than ever. Most workplaces now use an ecosystem of different communication channels – Slack, Teams, Zoom, email, phone – which means that attention is often fragmented and distractions are frequent.

In addition, remote work has fostered an always-available culture, with employees keen to be seen as visible and productive. Which may sound like a galvanising force in terms of output, but in fact may have the opposite effect - eating into personal time and leaving your team feeling overstretched.

So how can your firm avoid the pitfalls and embrace a work culture that contributes positively to PPP? Here are some useful tips.

Minimise distractions

A study by the University of California found that it takes an average of 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption. Even if the time you spend answering emails and jumping on Zooms doesn’t sound huge in terms of minutes and seconds, the cumulative effects of lost focus add up to a significant amount of squandered productivity over time.

Busy offices are prime environments for in-person interruptions (the same study found workers are distracted every eleven minutes on average.) But working from home comes with plenty of familiar distractions as well: the Amazon driver at the door, the noisy neighbour, perhaps even a needy pet. Once the flow is broken, it’s tough to get back to the task at hand. Giving your team the trust and flexibility to decide how and where they work is a good place to start, along with ensuring your office has plenty of quiet areas for disturbance-free work. Making sure you have a culture that allows them to properly manage time helps too. For example, 32% of people have found themselves thinking “this meeting could have been an email”, according to SurveyMonkey.

Using a dedicated team to handle potential interruptions – for example, an outsourced switchboard service to field your calls – is also a great way to ensure that your team is able to operate at maximum concentration. A responsible, empathetic switchboard team can answer all inbound calls on your behalf and filter them according to urgency, keeping distractions to a minimum.

Streamline your tech stack to beat the ‘toggling tax’

Your team will need to use a variety of programs for their work – productivity tools, scheduling apps, research databases, word processors, document management software, and much more. Harvard Business Review notes the adverse effects of the so-called ‘toggling tax’ - the time and mental energy lost to flicking between different tabs and programs. Even a simple task might require visits to a practice management platform like Clio or Denovo, a storage solution like Dropbox or OneDrive, plus a handful of other apps – DocuSign, Outlook, Word – all to complete one small job.

Because the different platforms all have unique user interfaces, purposes and layouts, the cognitive effect can be significant. The Harvard Business Review calls it “context switching”, and notes: “Psychology and neuroscience have shown that…even switching or toggling between two applications increases the brain’s production of cortisol (the primary stress hormone), slows us down, and makes it harder to focus.” There is no easy way around context-switching in a modern office environment. But making sure your practice’s workflows are as efficient and user-friendly as possible – with modern, intuitive software and integrated I.T. systems – can help lessen the stress.

Prioritise ‘useful hours’ over ‘visible hours’

Equity partners have undoubtedly experienced ‘responsibility-creep’ in the last few years. The need to manage costs, hold onto business, hire associates, develop relationships with clients and stakeholders, and generate billable hours increasingly fall under the aegis of the equity partner, as well as the usual responsibilities of counselling, research, and analysis.

Since the pandemic, there is an additional expectation for senior partners to be ‘visible’ – in other words, to be contactable outside office hours. There has been plenty of discussion about the tendency for hybrid working styles to blur the lines between our personal and professional lives, but for senior partners – who are managing a complex, high-pressure, ever-expanding set of responsibilities – it can have a significant impact on productivity. Partner roles are time-consuming and mentally draining; proper downtime must be available to ensure your team are working at maximum ability. Again, a switchboard outsourcing service can be an ally here – you can rest assured that professional, trained representatives for your firm are available for out-of-hours call handling, so your senior partners don’t feel like they’re always on call.

Keep your equity partners focussed on the most profitable work

Gone are the days when legal professionals could rely on access to secretarial staff to help out with admin and errands. Legal secretaries have been declining since 2001, and research for the Law Society suggests between 13,000 and 35,000 legal roles will be lost in the next decade, with legal secretaries being the hardest hit.

With so many software packages and personal devices to help with self-management – from productivity suites to instant communication to the notes and voice-recording functions on our phones – there is arguably less justification to keep extensive secretarial staff on payroll. But every small errand – from picking up lunch to fielding calls to taking down notes – is time that a partner isn’t spending on specialist work. The more time they’re able to allocate for tasks that can’t be delegated, the more value they provide for the firm. This is where a switchboard can really prove useful – you can protect your partners from responsibility-creep. No more fielding cold calls, responding to progress update requests from clients, or following up on voice messages. Your switchboard team can triage inbound calls according to importance, so your partners are always focussed on chargeable work – not admin.

Looking for a switchboard solution? Here’s how ComXo can help

ComXo are industry-leaders in transformational switchboard and business support services, committed to redefining the switchboard for law firms. With a combination of technology and great people, we help you deliver exceptional experiences during every call and communication you receive. Our 24-hour switchboard service lets you filter cold calls, triage calls according to urgency, direct enquiries to the right people or department, and allow partners to focus on what matters – billable work.

Why not talk to our team about how we can support your firm to boost productivity.

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Why call data should be every legal firm’s secret weapon

  • Data
  • Outsourcing
  • Productivity
Why call data should be every legal firm’s secret weapon

It’s no secret that LegalTech generates a lot of excitement and conversation for law firms looking to gain a commercial edge in a competitive market. By some estimates, as many as 50% of UK law companies are already using some form of AI, according to Oxford University research. But before you start considering swapping out paralegals for ChatGPT, or another ‘silver bullet’ technology, are you confident you’re making the most of your existing tech – like capturing in-bound call data?

If you want to gather more valuable insights, make better-informed strategic decisions and enhance overall customer experience, you definitely shouldn’t overlook the value of a powerful outsourced switchboard service. The right switchboard technology can help your business identify areas for growth, maximise your efficiency, and generate more leads – as well as ensuring a seamless experience for your callers.

Here’s how to use your call data to your advantage and help stand out in a competitive commercial landscape.

Inbound call data helps YOU make better calls

When making decisions for your business, it goes without saying that you want as much information as possible to help decide the right course of action. The more information you have access to, the more you’re able to focus on the important aspects of strategic decision-making – risk assessment, precedent analysis, resource allocation.

Inbound call data tells you more than you might think: where and when do you field most of your new business calls? How do customers and suppliers feel about contacting your office? How productive are your teams in terms of handling inbound calls? How much of your new business comes from cold calls, versus warm leads or referrals? What’s your overall call volume, and are you staffed for out of hours call handling? (Our data shows that 6.7% of calls to legal firms come in outside of standard office hours.) Data drives decisions, so it’s prudent to harness as much of it as possible.

It also makes measuring your marketing much easier

Offline marketing activity can be difficult to measure. But monitoring your inbound calls can help get a better understanding of your campaign’s ROI. By performing conversion tracking and cost analysis on your call data, you can attain a more granular understanding and more control over your marketing activity, letting you fine-tune your marketing for maximum impact and efficiency.

Phone is still the most popular channel for UK consumers

According to Capterra, the majority of UK customers (42%) generally prefer to get in touch with companies by phone. And while that figure is likely to vary across specialised industries, it does underline the fact that most people, when they have a problem that needs solving, want to speak to a real person about it – often urgently.

Calls may be emotionally complex – for example, a call from a potential client who needs to draft a loved one’s will requires a high level of empathy and understanding from the receiver. Giving customers a positive initial impression of your company – including quickly getting through to a real person – is an important first step. Monitoring and analysing how calls come into your business, how well they’re handled, how often they go to the right place, and how satisfied your clients and customers feel afterwards is vital if you’re going to provide continuous improvement to your customer experience metrics. As well as benefitting your business in other ways, such as…

Helping you prepare for busy periods

Unsurprisingly, most businesses want to be sure that they’re allocating their teams correctly, especially during busy periods when finding spare resource can be difficult. And the modern challenges of remote work and hybrid working have added even more complexity to firms’ resource management ability. Analysing call data helps you clearly understand the ebb and flow of your resource requirements. Especially in larger firms, it can be difficult to co-ordinate resource management across departments without having data to describe fluctuations in demand.

The last thing a business wants is to find that the majority of lead-bearing client calls tend to arrive on, for example, a Thursday afternoon during a weekly team meeting, or that a significant portion of calls come in after 6pm on a Friday, when there are fewer staff to help them. Monitoring your call data to find out who contacts you and when will help you know what to expect and how to prepare for the true volume of calls you receive – and helps guarantee a seamless experience for callers.

Allowing you to break down your time more accurately

How much of your firm’s time is spent paying invoices? Or on the phone to suppliers? Or soliciting new business? You may have a time management system in place already, like Clio or ProLaw, but with hybrid offices making things more complicated, it’s helpful to have as much hard data as possible to underwrite the accuracy of your time-tracking. Inbound call data allows you to get clearer breakdowns of how time is being spent across departments. You can use it to get accurate, granular breakdowns of how your teams operate, in order to encourage efficiency and improve overall time management.

Adapting and adjusting your business strategy

Of course, business strategy must adapt to meet changing customer needs, fluctuations in demand, and shifting market conditions. And inbound data provides various valuable indicators that can help inform the best direction for your strategy. For example, call data allows you to monitor the types of enquiry you’re receiving, and in what volume compared to previous quarters. If you need to reallocate resource, make new hires or even make large decisions such as rebranding or developing a new product or service, your call data can provide a useful bellwether for changing customer demand.

Driving change internally

Organisation-wide changes can be hard to implement, especially for larger firms. Since it requires the buy-in of numerous senior stakeholders, it can be difficult for teams to prove the business value of a proposal in a way that gains real traction. Measuring and analysing your call data can help you source the hard data you need to back up your case – making it easier to present findings to senior management.

Staying on top of potential new business leads

Letting phone calls go to voicemail isn’t just bad customer experience – it’s potentially letting new business leads fall through your fingertips at the same time. Even if you’re diligent about returning messages, potential clients have many options available to them and could easily have contacted a competitor before you have the chance to get back to them. With an outsourced switchboard service you can be confident that someone is on hand at all times to field calls, so you never miss a lead.

How ComXo can help

ComXo are industry-leaders in transformational switchboard and business support services, committed to redefining the switchboard for law firms. With a combination of technology and great people, we aim to help you deliver exceptional experiences during every call and communication you receive. We provide innovative 24-hour switchboard services to deliver outstanding customer experience, as well as automatically monitoring inbound call data to generate detailed strategic intelligence for your business. Switchboard data is the key to unlocking continuous improvement across your whole business – from helping you identify efficiencies to boosting new business to analysing customer experience to giving you the data you need to make informed decisions.

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Ask Andrew – Why are we all so curious about ChatGPT?

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Ask Andrew – Why are we all so curious about ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is new. It’s AI, but in a seemingly more accessible format than the ‘artificial intelligence’ of old – think of those strange prototype robots at corporate events that weren’t really helpful at pouring drinks but were certainly talking points.

Since November when it was launched, ChatGPT has already piqued interest in every sector and whilst it has been in our consciousness for just a few months, I suspect more has been written about its potential to transform or adversely destroy our norms, than any other topic since the invention of printing in the 14th century.

The big question is how it will affect our industry. Do we need to worry about it and what should we be doing to maximise the advantages that it may present?

Chat GPT is different.  No question about that.  I tried it out as soon as it was available back in November, and I had a similar epiphany to when I experimented with the internet back in 1995: “This is a game changer”.  But disruptive tech comes with its challenges. Here’s my thoughts on the risks, and potential rewards of using ChatGPT.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an LLM (Large Language Model, which is the term for generative tech that powers chatbots).  It’s simplicity is that it accesses data and then rationalises what appears to be insight from a culmination of data sets.  Data is interesting and on occasions enlightening but it lacks complexity and multi-dimension.  In contrast, the human brain is one of the most complex and extraordinary structures in our known universe. It uses electricity and chemicals (amongst other elements) to create conscious thought. According to google, our brain has more neuron connections than there are stars in our galaxy – sixty million or thereabouts. That surely cannot be replicated. 

And this is where the use of ChatGPT must be strategically planned and implemented.

The brain uses multiple data sources in decision making. Our left brains are logical and rational, right brains creative and emotional.  Human output and decision making is never determined just from data, no matter how rich the source. From my perspective ChatGPT is just surmised data. It is impressive in its speedy and prolific output, but don’t for a second believe it is ‘right’ - it is only reiterating data, and this is not necessarily factual.  ChatGPT is one dimensional. It is an automaton unable to triangulate data with emotion or that very human trait – feeling.  And for that reason, I cannot see it being trusted, and I’m not alone.

What does this mean for our industry?

If all is to be believed, the use of AI is growing exponentially, with benefits to productivity, efficiency, and client experience. So confident are some that this is the next tech revolution, predictions are being made that AI will raise annual global GDP by 7% (Goldman Sachs Research).

Whilst I agree that productivity and some automated processes could no doubt be enhanced in some areas, I challenge the concept that customer experience can be bettered when not using human experience, empathy and feeling.

In fact, if we take the legal industry at present, according to Reuters those in the legal profession “do not fully trust generative AI tools — and particularly the public-facing ChatGPT tool — with confidential client data.” (Reuters)

In service industries, where cases are often complex, high value or emotionally charged, can an organisation risk the loyalty and trust of their customers by putting them in the hands of artificial intelligence?

This leaves law firms in a situation where they are doubling down on client experience, and adding value at a human level, rather than risking tech in a bid to be innovative. My prediction for the future is that legal and consultancy will continue to help individuals and businesses navigate their world with the nuances and strategic insight that only experience can bring. What will likely disappear is the grunt work that they currently charge for, as AI will take over tackling document changes, policy writing and research.

At ComXo, we’re moving towards leveraging AI engines to help us analyse data patterns and enable our people to act quicker and more decisively, but we will not be replacing them.  Our industry is human at its core, and I believe its interactions will continue to be so too.

Andrew Try, Founder & Managing Director

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How Data is Disrupting the Legal Industry

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  • Client Experience
  • Company Culture
  • Productivity
  • The Office
How Data is Disrupting the Legal Industry

ComXo were joined by five legal tech experts from various technology providers in a virtual roundtable discussion, moderated by Andrew Lewis, Head of New Business at CTS. The discussion's aim was to examine the importance of data and analytics in the legal sector, as well as how law firms should use them to overcome sector-specific challenges and gain a competitive advantage.

Participants in this roundtable discussed data and legal analytics, law firms and new technology, client service, and the current hot topic in every industry: AI and ChatGPT.

In this roundtable, Andrew Try was accompanied by:

  • Ivan Packer, Consultant, Agilico
  • Rob Lawson, Strategic Sales Manager, Perfect Portal
  • Graham Moore, Founder & Managing Director, Katchr
  • Andy Lewis, Head of New Business, CTS

How is data disrupting the Legal Industry?

Complete your details below to download our free e-book.

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Ask Andrew: The forecast for 2023

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  • Business Continuity
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  • Productivity
  • The Office
Ask Andrew: The forecast for 2023

As we settle back into the office, we asked CEO Andrew Try to reflect on 2022 and talk us through predictions for the year ahead.

2022 can be best described as a discombobulation. So much of what we all considered normal was already out of kilter, and whilst this time last year I expected it to be a year of returning to norms, I think few predicted the rollercoaster of influences that affected work, personal, national and international sentiment.

As a business owner and manager, trying to forecast and predict in normal circumstances is hard and through 2022 it was harder still. However, sticking to key strategic anchors of creative, energetic people with a passion for being the best, challenging the status quo and building a better future' served us well at ComXo.

Here are my top 3 headwinds that we navigated as a business last year:

  1. Staff wellbeing

With a workforce that is fully hybrid, the business focus was to support the physical and mental health of our entire team, including those we could no longer see. ComXo is a boutique specialist delivering high service levels and market leading innovation, and for this a strong culture is required. Investment went into flexible shift patterns, "come into the office" events, wellbeing packages, parties , training and development, video team culture, resident mental health practitioners, and my weekly CEO video check in.

2. Change in workforce and workplace utilisation for clients.

As a workplace service partner to some of the largest professional service firms in the world, 2022 was uniquely challenging. The WFH (Work from Home) to WFO (Work from Office) ratio was difficult to forecast as "new normal" working practices evolved rapidly throughout the year. The spring saw the rebound from Covid and lockdown and war in Ukraine. The summer had the extra Jubilee bank holiday and 40C temperatures. In Autumn we mourned the death of the Queen, whilst numerous prime ministers came and went. Finally, Christmas was marred by strikes. How could we forecast this, and what normal would look like?

3. Inflationary forces, cost of living and the focus on value delivery.

Retaining and incentivising our dedicated and experienced teams has been essential. Searching for more value for customers as prices had to go up was, and remains, our focus. We have been helped by a tight labour market making customers look to outsource as an answer to their own staff troubles, but most importantly it's our continued effort to make ComXo a great place to work. We delivered 9 new team induction groups last year compared to an average of 5 per year, and our staff turnover is around 10% less than industry average which I'm very proud of.

This year what are my predictions?

It is impossible to second guess the macro except to say that complexity, global shock, fast moving trends and fluidity will continue to dominate. The companies that have the most flexible structures and elastic outlooks will benefit; those trying to hang on to the past will not. As the saying goes "When the big waves rain down upon you, the person who's smiling is the surfer!".

From the ComXo standpoint, creating flexible workplace and workforce environments is about the ability to "Centralise, Optimise and Virtualise". Central, virtualised services sitting on digital platforms, enabling AI and delivering data driven insight saves lots of money, increases workforce productivity and transforms client experience. As a business that thrives on managing complex challenges and streamlining them for a great result, we will continue to facilitate our customers on this journey, whatever 2023 and beyond throws at us.

Andrew Try, Founder & Managing Director

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Ask Andrew: Investing in innovation during uncertain times

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  • Client Experience
  • Company Culture
  • Productivity
  • Solution
  • The Office
Ask Andrew: Investing in innovation during uncertain times

Andrew Try, Managing Director of ComXo talks about how technology can help through uncertain times.

What is the future of the workplace over the next 5 years? When so much big change is happening in the world and influences such as environment, war, economy and COVID, this is a difficult question to predict. However, there are certain companies who are pioneering people, process and technology that are sign posting where the market is heading.

Technology is an obvious enabler, however poor adoption or platforms that do not achieve traction cause huge friction in organisations and user frustrations cause productivity to drop with time and money wasted.

At ComXo a combination of software platforms, re-engineered processes and the expertise of virtual teams are combined to provide personalized business support services 24 hours a day which support technology adoption and drives productivity and return on investment.

The ComXo mantra of "centralise, optimise and virtualise" your business support services cuts costs typically by 30% and transforms client experience which drives revenue and profitability.

At the heart of these virtualised services, used by 9 of the top 20 law firms and the likes of PWC is the ComXo Gateway.

The Gateway is an client branded app available from the app store that gives a workforce access to client specific services, information and workflows available as a combination of self-serve and as a managed service.

The outcome is that any member of staff at any time can access their organisation business support services to reserve a resource, register a request, use a service or find out information. The apps are branded, personalised and self-serve, however in the event that the user cannot get something done instant access to an expert (who knows who the user is and where they are) can pick up the request and complete it for the user.

This 'Self-serve' as a managed service drives 100% outcomes and enables large complex business to deliver an on-demand culture that enhances workforce satisfaction.

The reporting that accompanies the functions allow super users access to dash-boards that return real time information on services such as space utilisation, ground transport use, help desk tickets and new business enquiries through switchboard.

The Business Services App is able to changed and adapted in real time such that new work flows or reaction to a crisis or event can be delivered into the user interface instantly making it perfect for business continuity or highly bespoke set piece occasions.

ComXo integrate into 3rd party software and API to enable easy outsourcing and virtualisation of existing services such as IT and Facilities Help Desk, Meeting Room booking, desk management, ground transport, concierge service, switchboard and business continuity management.

ComXo's Business Services Mobile App is a client branded "Super App" that combines Software as a Service capability with an on-demand 'expert layer' that enables any user to get things done without fuss or friction.

Book a demo with our consultants today.

Andrew Try, Founder & Managing Director

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Are legal chat bots ready to chat?

  • Agile Working
  • Business Continuity
  • Client Experience
  • Company Culture
  • Productivity
  • The Office
  • Virtual Meetings
Are legal chat bots ready to chat?

With talk of "post-pandemic challenges" now feeling passé , and businesses re-focusing on the longer term future, legal firms are looking to build efficiencies into sustainable hybrid work processes, and ways to further enhance and develop their client experience for competitive advantage.

The use of "lawtech" including AI and chatbots has been hyped over recent years as the solution to all problems, with chatbots in particular seen as the "quick fix, easy to scale, friendly face of Artificial Intelligence".

Some predictions have estimated that more than 85% of customer interactions will NOT include a human being in the legal sector. But we ask the question:

"Are you ready to hand over your valued customers to a client experience which is totally hands-off?"

Are legal chatbots ready to chat e-book cover

Are you ready to hand over your valued customers to a client experience which is totally hands-off?

This insight, written by conversational intelligence expert Andrew Moorhouse, takes a look at balancing the risk of losing human interaction, alongside the reward of combining better tech and processes for a highly personalised managed service.

In this insight you'll find:

  • Insights from over 10,000 conversations across sectors
  • Analysis of call volumes and qualified leads for the legal sector
  • How to balance risk and reward when introducing AI technology
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Hybrid Working-Making it a success for your law firm

  • Agile Working
  • Business Continuity
  • Client Experience
  • Company Culture
  • Productivity
  • The Office
  • Virtual Meetings
Hybrid Working-Making it a success for your law firm

The change-averse legal sector has slowly been moving towards digitisation for years. However, since the global pandemic and the accompanying government-enforced lockdowns, the sector has been forced to review their working habits and embrace remote working.

As the world enters "the new normal", and Freedom Day in the UK seems a long way behind us, offices are reopening, and businesses are accommodating a blend of home and office working: the hybrid-working model.

Research has found that a large proportion of employees expect a level of "hybrid" working in the future - with just under half wanting to work from the office for 3 days or fewer each week. Additionally, results also found that over half of employees now believe the office to be unnecessary, with these numbers increasing since the first lockdown.

The legal sector needs to understand what's happening on the ground to ensure they are attracting new talent, providing a competitive working environment for staff, and proactively identifying concerns or issues amongst their employees - to provide the best experience to their teams.

Working in partnership with CBRE and CTS, we've provided a guide to help you do just that.

In this guide, we cover:

  • Why you should embrace hybrid working
  • The benefits of a hybrid working model
  • What employees want from hybrid working
  • What you should consider when developing your hybrid working strategy

Designing a successful hybrid working strategy: The best of both worlds

Complete your details below to download our free Hybrid Working e-book, with access to our ‘Finger on the pulse’ webinar on how to measure success.

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Returning to a Hybrid Workplace

  • Agile Working
  • Productivity
  • The Office
  • Virtual Meetings
Returning to a Hybrid Workplace

As October rolls around, and the usual 'back to work' messages are coming through, we take a topical look at what it means to return to a hybrid workplace, in collaboration with dedicated HR specialists, Kane HR.

From July 19 the UK government announced the move to step four of the roadmap which included the removal of most COVID-19 restrictions across England. Later, in early August Scotland and Wales also followed suit. Whilst the changes meant that workers are no longer required to work from home, government guidance recommends that employers follow a gradual return to the workplace over the coming months. This approach allows for the variant infection rates to continue to decline and appropriate plans and measures to be put in place by employers in readiness for return.

Employer obligations

Employers have a statutory duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their staff. This duty of care places a legal obligation on employers to plan any return carefully, consider their individual environment, conduct risk assessments, and implement context specific risk mitigation plans as appropriate; in short, employee safety and wellbeing must be a priority. Employers should take extra care of those with any potential protected characteristics and discuss with workers most at risk any reasonable adjustments that can be made to the workplace or working arrangements so they can work safely.

Whilst there is no mandatory government expectation on the specific measures that employers should take, the government has published guidance specific to each industry. The guidance includes certain measures that employers could consider, including;

  • Minimising unnecessary visitors
  • Ensuring social distancing
  • Frequent cleaning
  • Extra hand washing facilities
  • One-way systems to minimise contact
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face)
  • Staggering start/end times
  • Requiring a facial covering to be worn in enclosed space

Employee obligations

A small number of requirements remain in force for employees and must be observed by employers also. Anyone testing positive for coronavirus must self-isolate and should not attend their place of work. Anyone in close contact with someone who tests positive must also self-isolate although, from 16 August, under-18s and those who have received a second COVID vaccination at least 10 days before the contact no longer need to isolate and may continue to attend work as normal.

Employers should note that employees who have been employed for 26 weeks or longer have the right to request more flexible working arrangements, which could include working from home, but they are under no obligation to agree to such requests, particularly where cost, quality or performance may be adversely impacted.

All employees have an obligation to obey lawful and reasonable instructions given by their employer, which includes instructions relating to a return to work. However, employees may refuse to attend the workplace if they reasonably believe that it poses a danger to them, and, if so, they have certain protections under employment legislation. The protections also apply if an employee takes appropriate steps to protect themselves or others from danger.

Having a "reasonable belief" varies from case to case, depending on the facts. There have been a few Employment Tribunal judgements in cases regarding employees' concerns about COVID-19 which have shown that employees have faced little difficulty in establishing that they have a reasonable belief of significant or imminent danger. However, provided an employer is following the Government's working safely guidance, indications show that a "general" fear of COVID-19 may not be considered reasonable and an employee would have to demonstrate on what grounds they believe the workplace to be unsafe.

The future - a new hybrid model?

Looking ahead beyond the pandemic and current period of limited restrictions, the government is clear that re-opening businesses is essential for a healthy economy. Taking people back from furlough reduces the financial burden on the country and allows them to continue a normal working life. Studies by the University of Cambridge demonstrate how working can have a positive impact on mental health as well as the financial benefit. Encouraging people to return to the office may also be helpful in reinvigorating city centres where businesses have been adversely impacted by the absence of office workers whilst restrictions were imposed.

With that said however, companies and their employees have a clear opportunity for change, creating a new normal rather than reverting to "as was". Having experienced a fundamental shift in ways of working over the last 18 months, people have found new ways to be successful, maintaining productivity and sustaining operations. As a result, expectations around work have changed for both employers and employees. Employees' thinking related to how they fulfil their role and how they balance work and domestic responsibilities may have changed dramatically. For employers, there are new opportunities relating to how and from where they can source talent for their business too.

This is an ideal time for employers to think more creatively about effective ways of working, and harness more agile and flexible working practices to meet individuals' changing expectations and business needs.

The data

New research from the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management has found that a large proportion of employees will expect a level of "hybrid" working in the future - with just under half (44%) of the workforce wanting to work from the office for 3 days or fewer each week. Additionally, results also found that 63% of employees now believe the office to be unnecessary - this was a rise of one-fifth since the first lockdown (51%).

The poll, which surveyed 2,000 office workers across the country in March 2021, shows that demand for hybrid working is especially prevalent in the younger demographic. Two-thirds (66%) of 18-24-year-olds confessed that not being offered flexible work patterns would cause them to look for another job. Yet disturbingly, over a third (38%) of this demographic feel their employer is putting pressure on them to return to the office - risking losing new talent.

Benefits of remote or hybrid working

There are many benefits to well thought out, agreed, and communicated hybrid ways of working. The research appears to indicate that job satisfaction may be one of the key benefits. Allowing better work life balance and increased flexibility is an attractive value proposition for most employees which could lead to reduced attrition benefiting both company, reduced cost to hire, and enhanced career prospects. Happy employees are far more likely to focus on getting the job done, which in turn will lead to better productivity benefits.

Research during lockdown periods has also shown that typically employees worked at least as many hours if not longer whilst working from home, using what was once commuting time more productively. This has brought about a concerning blur between the boundaries of work and home life. Taking this into account, it's important that in planning for a hybrid working model, the benefits that come from greater flexibility are not eroded via "work creep" and encroachment into personal lives. A successful model will therefore be partly dependant on employers and employees agreeing on reasonable expectations for availability, contact times and meetings; one way to address this is in laying out a remote or hybrid working policy, which we look at in more detail later in this article.

Another benefit associated with hybrid ways of working include the reintroduction of social interaction. Whilst lone working allows for greater focus time on specific tasks, both individuals and teams will have missed the real social dimension. Seeing real bodies from which to gauge body language, perceive what has and hasn't been said, the development of natural learning opportunities and a sense of belonging that grabs people's hearts as well as minds is important, not least because it will enhance retention. From a productivity point of view also, the "osmosis" effect of employees learning by being with and around others has enormous value for productivity and employee sense of satisfaction; this is equally applicable to new starters or those needing more support in their role.

This sense of productivity from being together can greatly enhance the work of those in creative functions. Brainstorming or "co-creation" can be an incredibly powerful way of fast tracking to new ideas but works best together where employees can create a buzz and bounce off each other. This notion of being together may also be applicable in highly detailed, time pressured environments, perhaps an investor presentation with multiple iterations, a budget presentation or a business-critical deal that needs to be delivered at pace.

Finally, the benefit of social and casual interactions like a chance meeting in the hallway or bathroom, should not be underestimated in building networks. It's well documented that networking can underpin a greater sense of "can do" in organisations, knowing someone who can, but also helps in career pathing. This is particularly relevant in retaining key talent, giving them a sense of visibility, that what they are doing is being noticed and will help them get the next job. It's also useful for line managers to become familiar with employee talent making it easier to fill new roles as they become open.

Woman home working on her laptop


Each of the above ideas points us to a sense of purpose.

Why do we need to be together? Where do we do our best work? What factors will support our productivity and ultimate success both for the business and the employee?

It's this sense of purpose that should help shape an employers' thinking around planning for a return to work or hybrid working.

Taking the most simplistic view, for employees to work efficiently and be productive from home, they will need access to the right equipment and tools to deliver the requirements of their job role. This ranges from basic desk, chair, lighting requirements through to computer equipment, internet access, headphones, and software tooling to facilitate collaboration or another role-specific functionality. Stating the obvious, employees should be provided with training on how to use the tools required for remote working and have access to a helpline for when (inevitably) something goes wrong. They will never feel more isolated and remote than when stranded at home unable to "connect".

Whilst it's easy to imagine that employees should have all that they need after such a long period of being away from their regular place of work, it's likely that many will have "made do" and to continue working from home on a more regular formal basis may need additional support. Employers need to consider how that support should be provisioned and what is appropriate. As they do this, it's important to remember that they have an obligation to safeguard the health and wellbeing of employees and will be responsible for ensuring that whatever provision is made, the working from home environment is assessed and found to be compliant with health and safety legislation.

Continuing to consider purpose, the way employees use an office in the future may suggest employers need to reconfigure office space. Whereas row upon row of desk space with a small contingent of meeting rooms may have been appropriate in the past, perhaps more open collaboration space will be required. If employees manage focused work from home and come to the office for broader project collaboration, team meetings and updates or social events, traditional space may not be fit for purpose and need to be reconfigured. Potentially the space requirement may also be smaller allowing companies to reduce their property footprint, making savings whilst facilitating improved productivity. With this change in footprint and potentially less desks than total employees, employers may need to consider an easy access booking system to manage available space.


With so much change it's essential that business leaders act as role models for new ways of working. A leadership team that is in the office 5 days a week every week may set an unspoken or perceived expectation that to succeed, employees must be visible in the office every day. Being vocal about how often and why they come to the office will help leadership give "permission" to or enable employees to feel comfortable about their own choices on when to work remotely versus in the office.

Crucial also is a clear articulation of expectations from management on what they expect from employees working remotely. This can be facilitated with a well written remote or hybrid working policy which should aim to address the following topics:

  • Suitable locations for remote working
    • Working abroad for prolonged time periods may expose the company to unintended tax liabilities
    • Employers and employees should consider the appropriateness of a given setting, particularly regarding sensitive material. As an example, internet cafes or pubs may not be appropriate locations
    • Protection of IP is also important if employees are going to access material on personal equipment or print documents outside of the office environment.
  • Expectations regarding working hours
    • Is a traditional 9-5 timeframe still expected or are there flexibility parameters within which an employee may choose to work to get the job done?
  • Outline for regular contact
    • What may an employee expect from their manager?
    • What is required of an employee?
    • Are there timeframes within which it's acceptable, and conversely others where it is unacceptable, to expect this contact to occur?
  • Performance management
    • How will this be managed, how frequently and by whom?
    • What happens if there are issues?
    • Career planning and support
  • Support for home working
    • Who manages provision of required equipment?
    • Who funds home working expenses? E.g., internet, increased utility bills, insurance obligations, travel to and from office if this is no longer an employee's default location
  • What to do when things go wrong
    • IT support and how to access?
    • Who to contact if an employee experiences any issue with functional work, other team members or managers.
    • Mental health support for those feeling remote, isolated
  • Any changes or amendments to contractual terms, benefits, or incentives

Note the above is not exhaustive.


In addition to the above, managers need to consider that not everyone's model of hybrid will be the same. It's possible that not all employees will be in the office together and so consideration must be given to how to manage a team that is partially remote and partially in the office. It's important that all employees feel that they are treated equally and justly regardless of location. Simple practicalities relating to this would include taking care in managing team meetings, with attendance split between face to face and remote participation. Things to be conscious of are as follows;

  1. Everyone should be clear about purpose of the meeting, whether that be decision making, a chance to catch up, information sharing etc, and check it's suited to a hybrid working approach. If so, it's important to communicate the intended outcome to the team so everyone has a chance to prepare.
  2. Try to ensure each attendee has a consistent experience by actively taking steps to involve participants working from home - don't default to those in the room with you. This could be done by addressing everyone by name and giving everyone a chance to contribute. Chat and hand-raising functions can be useful in doing this.
  3. The need to refresh or provide training in meeting facilitation for each type of meeting.
  4. Encourage teams to establish their own rules and way to conduct hybrid meetings. For example: choosing a primary platform to use, ensuring everyone knows how to use it, and deciding on ways to ensure communication is inclusive of all.
  5. Make use of tools such as the Microsoft Teams chat function to allow teams to communicate from different locations without having to be in a meeting.
  6. Avoid the use of equipment in the room that team members who are working from home cannot properly see - present slides via the chosen technology will be more inclusive and easier for remote members to engage with.
  7. Save in-person conversations for another time, rather than just before remote participants have joined, or after they have left.


In conclusion, it's safe to say that the trend towards hybrid working is an evolving situation, one which all employers should be mindful of when considering future plans. Whilst there is no single right or wrong answer, employees will have an opinion on what works for them and the employers likely to be most successful in navigating this challenge will be those that consult and communicate with their workforce to understand exactly what is going to work for everyone.

Holding purposeful consultations will help to steer formulating solutions as will being mindful that the right answer is likely to be a framework which will evolve over time rather than a rigid one size fits all answer. Most importantly, as always, clear communication of any agreement and expectations between both employer and employee is critical.

If any of this resonates and you'd like to discuss your hybrid workplace strategy and how we can support you, get in touch here.

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