In March 2021, our world was no longer as we knew it. It shut down, forcing business owners, including our law firm to re-imagine a new way of doing business. In a law firm setting, so much is gained by in-person communication, whether it be client meetings, depositions, collaboration amongst attorneys and staff, and mentoring, just to name a few.
In an instant, our law firm went strictly remote- transitioning from a significantly hands-on office and an intensively collaborative environment, to zoom meetings all day, every day. We learned a lot during this past year. We learned that our employees are resilient, creative and can effectively work remotely without interruption to client representation.
Now as we are approaching 16 months since the shutdown, we are looking to the future and returning to an in-office environment, continuing to incorporate all that we have learned.
Considerations to returning to an in-person office work environment include the development of “zoom rooms,” as many court appearances, client meetings and depositions will likely still take place via zoom for the foreseeable future; willingness to allow some staff to work from home part-time, and utilization of shared office space for staggered schedules.
As a Tier 1C employer, more than 80% of our employees have received their first vaccination, and we now look towards navigating our new normal. Because not all employees have chosen to be vaccinated, we must not only protect our vaccinated employees (there is still a risk) but also those who remain unvaccinated. Same goes for anyone visiting our office who may not be vaccinated. Safety is, and should always be, a top priority for any business. Safety measures to consider include: implementing employee health screening, developing an exposure response plan, providing personal protective equipment (PPE), utilizing detailed cleaning procedures, and requiring masks to be worn in all common areas. Experts say if a business has a limited number of employees who are vaccinated, it is strongly suggested to develop a staggered schedule, rotating between home and work, and restricting business travel.
As a member of our law firm leadership team, the past year was made more manageable by working with a group of operations-role individuals in similar law firms. Learning from each other has been instrumental to navigating these unchartered waters. Undoubtedly, we will use these working groups in the future to support one another and our respective law firms in the months and years to come.
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