Allen & Overy opens remote working hub in Vauxhall as it bids to be 'go to' firm for women

Allen & Overy (A&O) is set to open a hub office in Vauxhall next week (9 April) to make it easier for staff to work remotely, as part of a renewed push to boost gender diversity at the firm.

The firm has taken space for eight open-plan desks that will be available to all staff wishing to work remotely, with the offering set to be piloted for an initial six-month period.

A&O will then make a decision on whether to make the base permanent and consider launching other remote bases around the capital.

The move comes after lawyers raised difficulties around remote working at a diversity away day organised by the firm in November, with the firm hoping that the hub will give staff who may not have suitable space at home for working better work/life balance by cutting commute times.

A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe (pictured) said: “We’re looking at how it works and will see if it could work in other areas too. We expect lawyers at all levels to use it. Giving people the confidence to know they do not have to come to the main office is important.”

The firm has also introduced a target for partner candidate figures as part of the refreshed gender strategy, which has been drawn up after it was able to make up just two women to partner last year.

With female partner promotions also expected to be low this year, Dejonghe wants to improve the pipeline. As part of this, the firm has set a new target for partnership candidates – stating that by 2021, 30% of partner candidates must be female, with the firm also working towards a 30% target for the partnership in the longer term.

Partners and practice group heads will be held accountable for developing this pipeline, with practice group heads expected to demonstrate how they are managing the pipeline via twice-yearly calls with Dejonghe.

Head of diversity Jo Dooley said: “We’ve also got to make sure we incentivise women to stay long enough to make it to that stage. We have a number of female development programmes that involve more senior women talking to junior lawyers about the realities of demanding careers.”

Dejonghe added: “It could become a competitive advantage if you become the ‘go to’ firm for women.”