Some firms euphemistically call downsizing right-sizing because it enables them to alter their workforce according to the amount of business they're currently generating. The staff-to-work ratio is deemed "right" and the workforce is the "right size" for the firm, hence the more upbeat lingo.

An even more optimistic interpretation of right-sizing is called "flexible" right-sizing.

Flexible right-sizing means providing alternative work arrangements to associates or support staff rather than laying them off or downsizing during slow periods. This method helps firms scale down or up, depending on the demand for services, without losing valuable employees.

If you're looking to right-size, but not let anyone go, consider offering support staff the following:

  1. Sabbaticals or furloughs are unpaid time off. They may be offered to staff who would be difficult to replace or they may be suitable for seasonal employees when the firm anticipates that the slowdown in work may be temporary.
  2. Telework allows associates to work from home. Some firms find that by allowing more of their staff to make work-from-home arrangements, they can shift to smaller offices and save on leases and related expenses without sacrificing productivity. In fact, some firms find that productivity goes up. And with specialized Virtual Office phone programs, your workers can still maintain their business lines with their mobile!
  3. Reducing the number of days worked per week may shift some full-time associates and support staff to part-time hours, or it may further decrease part-time hours.
  4. Job sharing arrangements involve two employees who share one available position. Job sharing may coincide with flextime, in which your staff can work flexible hours according to their availability and job needs. This is ideal for people such as paralegals who may work with other lawyers and firms, and are not always available.

Flexible right-sizing isn't always an option though. If you're downsizing as you move to your own solo practice, then consider virtual assistants, who can work on-demand and allow you to maintain the right amount of support staff for incoming casework.

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