There are many variables at play that make it difficult to predict the degree to which Chicagoans should prepare to deal with disruptions to work and their day-to-day lives surrounding COVID-19. Regardless of your personal predictions, it raises the crucial point that law firms need to have plans to implement when daily operations are interrupted for one reason or another.
Most importantly, firms need to be prepared for staff and attorneys to work remotely. In this specific circumstance, the CDC has urged employers to consider their sick policies. The CDC recommends that employers encourage sick employees to stay home and permit symptomatic employees to work from home. If an employee is sick, workflows should be in place to make sure that their work is covered.
Make sure your employees have the devices and access they need in order to perform their work from home. Beyond the basic hardware, providing employees with access to communication platforms like Zoom or Slack can help remote operations run more smoothly. You don’t want an employee to encounter Zoom for the first time five minutes before an important remote meeting, so you’ll need to train employees to use whatever tools you set up. (Or send them to the CBA’s upcoming Tech Workshop on March 12th called “Troubleshooting Virtual Meeting Software. Register here).
The best way to determine whether employees are adequately prepared to work from home is to allow them to try it out. After some test runs, you’ll have a stronger sense of the pain points you need to address and what expectations need to be outlined in advance.
On that final note, be cognizant that work/life boundaries can get blurry when working remotely. Make sure your expectations surrounding communication and performance are outlined and communicated to employees. It’s likely that your firm’s priorities might shift during a period of remote operations. Consider this, outline them, and communicate them to ensure that everyone is on the same page even when they’re in different locations.
For more information about recommendations for workplaces, visit the CDC’s site here.
For more information about disaster planning for firms, visit the ABA’s list of resources here.