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ANALYSIS: Flex Time, Mask Rules Await Returning Law Firm Staff

July 14, 2021, 9:01 AM

As economic activity resumes, and law firm attorneys return to the office, Bloomberg Law survey results show that a variety of measures focusing on providing flexibility and a safer and cleaner workplace for their employees are a big part of firms’ RTO plans.

Four out of five attorneys surveyed in April and May for Bloomberg Law’s 2021 Law Firm Benchmarks Survey said their law firm has set a target date for fully reopening their workplaces or has a plan in place to do so. (Another 13% said their firms are already fully open.)

For those 80% of firms gearing up to reopen, flexibility is on the menu. When asked what measures their firm will implement, nearly two-thirds (63%) indicated that their firm will allow more flexible work schedules; half (50%) said that extended work from home options will be available; 41% said that there will be staggered re-entry; and 40% indicated that their firm will encourage video or voice conferencing in lieu of in-person interactions.

Safer and cleaner offices are also a focus. Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated that their firm will require employees to wear masks; almost half (48%) stated that intensive cleaning of the workplace is part of the plan; and approximately one out of every five respondents said there will be barriers erected between workstations, and stairways and corridors will be designated as one-way (22% and 20%, respectively).

A firm that implements these precautions shows employees that it prioritizes their safety and well-being, which can make employees more comfortable returning to the office. This is especially true in light of the rapid spread of the more virulent Delta variant of Covid-19.

Flexible work schedules, mask mandates, staggered re-entry, workstation barriers, and other precautionary measures should be considered as best practices—at least until the majority of the population is fully vaccinated, herd immunity is achieved, and the pandemic is finally in the rear-view mirror.

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