As more states and businesses emerge from lengthy lockdowns, there will undoubtedly be many lessons to draw from the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps the biggest of them all is the incredible speed with which things can change. All across the country, starting as early as mid-March, organizations, offices, and law firms closed up shop and ran operations almost entirely from home. For some, the transition was fairly seamless. For others, it was anything but, as distractions from family, pets, and other personal responsibilities adversely impacted productivity and thus any semblance of business as usual.
Yet in line with the phased re-opening that most local and state governments are implementing, a return to normalcy isn’t like flicking a light switch: It won’t happen right away. However, there are a few things you can do to make the transition a bit smoother:
1. Prioritize safety
Safety has never not been important, but it’s particularly crucial in today’s day and age, as health officials have repeatedly noted why it’s vital for everyone to adhere to social distancing measures and other methods proven to reduce the spread of coronavirus. In recent polling conducted by Gallup, 73% of respondents said it was “very important” that there be a “significant reduction” in new cases before resuming to their typical routines, with 68% saying the same about the development of a vaccine.
Given that a vaccine may not be available until 2021 at the earliest, consider putting together a plan that lays out what steps you’re taking to ensure everyone’s well-being. For example, you may want to rearrange office desks and chairs so they’re all at least six feet away from one another. You might also consider only letting so many people be in the office or lounge at any one time, or at least until health officials provide updates on loosening social distancing measures.
2. Address the elephant in the room
Unintended consequences of the shutdown have run the gamut, as the sudden shuttering of the economy led to massive job losses and the unemployment rate ballooned to nearly 15% in April, according to the most recent statistics available from the Labor Department. Your law firm may be among those that have had to let people go. This can obviously be a sensitive subject, but you may want to consider talking about layoffs with your staff so everyone is clear on what’s occurred and what – if anything – may be to come. As noted by Chief Executive, uncertainty and a general lack of transparency can create confusion for staff and prevent them from doing their level best if they’re unsure of where they stand in terms of job security. Try to be as straightforward as possible about job losses or furloughs so no one is in the dark about the reasoning behind staffing decisions.
3. Speak with local officials
Just as the degree to which workplaces closed and organizations considered “essential” varied from state to state, the same goes for reopening. Some parts of the country saw many more cases than others and thus are slower to lift restrictions on the facilities that can open. Reach out to leadership so you stay compliant with what rules are in place.
4. Reevaluate work-from-home policy
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, it’s very possible that the workplace may never be quite the same again. Organizations that once were loath to implement work-from-home policies may be taking a second look at them, as a number of employees were able to transition to the telecommuting work lifestyle with relative ease. Speak with those who have worked from home to see if they liked it and to what degree it had on their productivity. Where appropriate, giving personnel more free rein over how often they telecommute may be worthwhile, as this can lower the cost of overhead and make social distancing measures easier.
If remote work will be part of the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world, Afinety can help. The Afinety Cloud Platform is a cloud-based workspace that is reliable, performant, secure, and optimized for remote access, allowing your team the ability to continue being productive and effective – anytime, anywhere. Contact us to learn more about our unparalleled cloud-based solution.