At a time when law firms are struggling to retain talent and wrestling to balance hybrid workplaces, the Texas-based corporate law firm Vela Wood did something unique: It sent its employees and their families to Portugal for a month. Why did it do it? How did it do it? What did clients think? And are there lessons for other firms?
For the answers to those questions and more, our guests this week are the two name partners of the firm: Kevin Vela, who is the firm’s managing partner, and Radney Wood. (Vela is pictured right above, Wood left.) As you will hear, theirs is not a traditional corporate firm in many respects, as they are selective in the clients they take on and committed to work-life balance among their employees.
Travel was already integral to the firm’s culture, in the belief that it helps develop more motivated and well-rounded employees. Partner Wood has traveled extensively throughout the world and founded a company to facilitate remote work for professionals. Several years ago, the firm adopted its Desk Independence program to encourage individual employees to work from other countries.
But the Portugal trip — which the firm dubbed VW Abroad — took that to a new level, offering its entire staff the opportunity to work from Portugal for a month and bring their families. It offered a $3,000 stipend for travel, arranged a co-working space, and helped with travel and other activities. About half the staff took them up on the offer.
Both Vela and Wood say the trip yielded benefits they had not even anticipated. And they are already planning next year’s trip.
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