Tips for Telecommuting During the COVID-19 Crisis

Two keys: clear expectations and regular communication.

As the COVID-19 crisis rages, some law firms are turning to tele-commuting – often with little or no time to adequately plan and prepare.

For those without formal policies for working at home, the result can be chaos and confusion. Even worse: cases can slip through the cracks and confidential data can be compromised.

Here are ten tips to ease the transition:

  1. Create a written emergency plan.
  2. Address key issues such as how employees should communicate with managers, how they will receive updated information, how they should secure firm assets, and how they should respond to client inquiries.
  3. Try to foresee issues before they arise.
  4. Make sure everyone buys in.
  5. Set clear expectations as to staff performance.
  6. Discuss remote work options; consider implementing some arrangements on a trial basis.
  7. See that staff can access data and applications securely.
  8. Use communication and collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack and Skype to stay in touch.
  9. Come up with a plan for handling incoming telephone calls and returning calls promptly.
  10. Review procedures regularly and make adjustments as needed.

Today’s Cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated. Alta Pro invites you to join in on a conversation with attorneys Kevin O’Hagan and Jamey Davidson, recognized thought leaders in Data Breach and Cyber Liability. The FREE one-hour CLE webinar “10 Things Lawyers Should Know About Cyber Liability” will be presented Tuesday, March 31 (12 PM Central/1 PM Eastern). This webinar is approved for one hour of free CLE credit as a benefit of your Alta Pro RPG membership. Seats are limited, so reserve yours today.

Following are some additional resources for handling full or partial work-from-home arrangements at your firm.

  • This article addresses safe health practices for office meetings and social distancing. Sample: “Many law firms have turned to partial measures, including voluntary and rotating remote policies, to stem transmission and protect their talent. But simply reducing the amount of attorneys and staff in an office isn’t enough, two infectious disease experts say.” Source: Law.com and The American Lawyer
  • Here is an excellent Law Firm Management Checklist: Stay Healthy, Be Pro-Active. Sample:Send short, proactive progress updates to your teams even when daily meetings aren’t required. By sending these short updates throughout the day, you keep your staff in the loop with regards to what you’ve been doing. Be patient. Unless a decision needs to be made immediately, give people time to respond to queries because they might be working on a different schedule or caring for children who are not in school. Maintain work hours. Ensure the whole team has at least five hours of overlap in their working hours to allow people to be in touch at least part of the day and prevent slowdowns on critical issues.” Source: legalcompter.com
  • Here is an article on some of the basics of working from home. Sample: “Invest in reliable internet access and a good router and be prepared to use your phone as a backup.” Source: observer.com
  • This piece in the New York Times emphasizes the importance of having a regular routine and getting enough sleep. Sample: “Being tired throughout the day can make working harder and less productive, which could result in longer hours to accomplish what you need to.” Source: New York Times

A final takeaway: “Be compassionate,” says this source in LegalComputer. “Acknowledge that people are afraid for their own health, their families and the community at large. Acknowledge that working from home (and, for many, now with kids at home) creates a new rhythm for everyone. All this change is stressful.”

Sign up for the FREE webinar “10 Things Every Lawyer Should Know About Cybersecurity in 2020.” The program is presented on March 31. It carries one free hour of lawyer CLE credit. Sign up here.

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