Here are some tips for attorneys reopening their offices in the midst of this pandemic health crisis.
The Indiana State Bar Association Guide provides some quick takes when reopening a law office following the pandemic.
- Prepare the building and workplace: Consider cleaning plans, pre-return inspections, HVAC, and mechanical checks.
- Prepare the workforce: Develop plans to mitigate anxiety by creating policies for deciding when each employee returns and establishing an employee communications plan.
- Control access points: Consider protocols for safety and health checks, building reception areas, shipping and receiving, elevators, and visitor policies.
- Create a social distancing plan: Consider options to keep workers at a safe distance, which may include new seating arrangements and establishing office traffic patterns.
- Reduce touch points and increase cleaning: Consider keeping doors open and develop protocols for cleaning work areas and common areas.
- Communicate for confidence: Recognize that employees may have concerns about returning to work, so communicate transparently, and listen and survey regularly.
When reopening, consider these factors as well, as provided by the NYSBA guide:
- Monitor oversight and implementation of the reopening plan.
- Develop and update, as needed, internal policies and procedures for the transition from remote work to the workplace.
- Communicate with legal and support staff with one voice regarding the transition process, set clear expectations, and offer firm-wide training, as needed.
- Field questions or concerns.
- Become familiar with federal and state statutes and programs governing office safety and human resource issues.
- Develop a plan for testing employees for the virus.
- Develop client and visitor policies.
- Conduct business safely.
The Oregon Law Practice Management Guide stated:
- Recommendations or requirements for face masks for employees and clients.
- Procedures regarding any daily health assessments for employees. These can include self-evaluation by each employee, and if deemed necessary, an evaluation conducted by someone in your office, to determine if it’s safe for an employee to return to work each day.
- Processes should be put in place to ensure that employees are maintaining good hygiene at all times, are regularly washing their hands, and are prioritizing physical distancing.
- Plans that provide for the cleaning and sanitizing of the office throughout, and at the end of, the workday.
- Rules that limit the maximum capacity of various rooms in the office in order to comply with distancing guidelines.
Note: these are tips and not exact protocols required by state authorities. Please check for information within your own state health departments.
If you have any questions about this information or title insurance, please contact Ralph Aponte: 732.914.1400.
Counsellors Title Agency, www.counsellorstitle.net, founded in 1996, is one of New Jersey’s most respected title agencies, serving all 21 New Jersey counties with title insurance, clearing title, escrow, tidelands searches, and closing and settlement services for commercial or industrial properties, waterfront properties and marinas, condominiums, townhouses or residential single family homes. Counsellors Title also features its own Attorney Settlement Assistance Program™ [ASAP], which is an individual resource customized to fit the needs specifically of real estate attorneys, including, Documentation, Preparation, Disbursement of Funds, Attendance at Closing, HUD Preparation or Post-Closing Matters.