The world economy has come to a near standstill in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some tips on managing a remote legal team through coronavirus.
Businesses and schools are shuttered. Companies in every industry face challenges on all fronts including managing a remote legal team through coronavirus. Law firms are no exception. Some firms anticipate a slowdown in business, while others are swamped with a surge of clients who need legal advice at this critical time. With the stay-at-home order, many firm partners are suddenly in charge of a remote workforce with little preparation. Here are some considerations when dealing with an unexpected remote legal team:
Set Realistic Expectations
The current situation is unprecedented, and nobody knows what the new normal will be. Courts are operating on different schedules, client priorities have changed, and deadlines have been pushed back indefinitely. Health concerns and other unusual circumstances can also make it difficult for employees to carry out their usual tasks. In light of the current situation, the management team should identify and focus on the critical near-term objectives of the firm.
Evaluate the Firm’s Technology
During and after the pandemic, technology may dictate the ultimate survival of a business. Firms that have not embraced technology may have difficulty connecting staff members to clients or critical projects. Many firms already have a VPN (Virtual Private Network). However, if the entire firm is working remotely on the VPN, there may not be enough capacity to handle the new load. Work with your IT department on required licenses and procedures, as well as security considerations.
Unlike a well-planned work-from-home schedule, the Coronavirus has thrown households into lockdown with little preparation. Working parents may be sharing computers, office space, and bandwidth with kids who are now home-schooling. Managers should identify specific issues that need to be addressed during this crisis. Does the employee have a dedicated laptop for work? If not, can the firm provide laptops or wifi hotspots? Can tasks be completed at different hours to accommodate childcare and home-schooling conflicts?
Keep Communication Lines Open
Communicate company updates and policies promptly, clearly, and in a calm manner. Utilize as many platforms as possible to relay new messages to everyone in the firm—update company websites, blogs, and outgoing communication to inform clients of how their casework will be handled. To touch base with employees, managers can utilize a variety of video conferencing platforms.
Be Mindful of Mental Health
Even under the best circumstances, attorneys have high levels of depression, alcoholism, and addiction. Financial worries, stress, and extended isolation may exacerbate underlying problems. If your firm doesn’t have an EAP, the American Bar Association has a resource page available for managing a remote legal team:
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