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MANAGING THE OFFICE

Creating the right spaces for your post-pandemic law office

Staff have returned to law offices this summer, with more likely return in the fall. But the pre-pandemic office design might not work anymore, with some staff continuing full-time telework, others opting for part-time presence in the office—and many accustomed to the freedom they enjoyed while working from home. Allwork.Space, a company that focuses on what it calls The Future of Work, has this advice for reconfiguring offices for today’s needs: The open office may be a thing of the past. Large, one-size-fits-all spaces certainly don’t fit all needs, and can negatively impact productivity. Buildings may be static, but people are dynamic, so physical design must account for the motion of people through the static space. Re-designing your space for activity-based working can improve the workplace experience by better meeting… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

The top 8 policies to include in your employee handbook

By Krystal Barghelame  What is an employee handbook? An employee handbook is an important living document for your employees that outlines your company policies, history, and culture for current and future employees. Although 87% of businesses with 10 to 200 employees have employee handbooks, HR experts agree that it’s best practice to start a handbook as soon as you hire your first employee, because it defines expectations and can protect you legally. Here are the main policies you’ll want to record in that employee handbook: Onboarding and joining the team One of the top motivations for businesses to create an employee handbook is to train new hires. So, kick things off by laying out the basics that every employee should know before coming through the front door. The employee onboarding section… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

TO DOs: Your May office checklist

It can be difficult to focus on work this month. May is when many of us come down with spring fever, yearning to get outside in the garden or on the hiking trails. Added this year is the anticipation life might be heading to some sort of normal after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions, but uncertainty about planning activities. Start planning coverages for summer vacations. Many firms do not use temporary legal assistants or secretaries anymore. With stepped up efficiencies in the office, legal assistants or secretaries are often assigned to cover for an attorney while another staff member is out of the office. Looking at the schedules for the coming months now will ensure that there is sufficient coverage. If outside help is necessary, now is the… . . . read more

SURVEY SAYS

Tech, talent search and space reduction drive law firm changes

Change is a fact of life for law firms today, and leadership is fully aware—three in four survey respondents noted their firm’s partners are receptive to change. This need for change centers around two central premises: the need to improve real estate efficiency to stay lean and cost-competitive, and the need to evolve to attract talent and accommodate new ways of working. Despite these initiatives, the majority of respondents to a recent survey by Gensler Research Institute reported that their firm continues to lease more space than is necessary. Larger firms are more likely to have excess space on their books. Recently designed firms are less likely to have excess space, confirming the focus on space reduction in recent years—though even among those whose offices have been redesigned recently, one in… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Checklist: How to evaluate an office space for a move

The past year of the pandemic has brought major changes in office space needs for law firms. Law professionals and administrative staff have been working from home and participating in remote meetings and court appearances. Some see the possibility of continuing to work remotely even after COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, and some see the possibility of moving to home and office to locations away from city centers. If these developments are playing out in your law office, you might be looking at downsizing to a smaller office space or even migrating to another part of the country. When you are looking at a different office space, you might find this office space evaluation checklist helpful: The most important question: How will the location and layout of this space contribute to… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Renting out extra space? Set up protective walls to avoid risk

With more law firm employees working from home during the pandemic, a firm may find itself living in too much space—and paying too much rent. One solution is to bring in a tenant. Usually the renter is a solo practitioner or a small firm, and the arrangement is good for everybody, because the firm collects the rent and the renter gets the amenities as well as the appearance of an association with the larger group. From a risk perspective, however, it’s a cause for concern. The firm has to look past the financial benefits to the danger spots. It has to think like a landlord and get signed documents and insurance policies. And more, it has to set up protections against the disasters specific to a law firm/law firm lease… . . . read more

TOOL

Model mandatory face mask policy

More than 20 states have enacted laws requiring the use of face masks or coverings in indoor public places. Here’s a Model Policy incorporating current legal requirements and public health guidance that you can adapt for your own lab.

EMPLOYERS FOOT THE BILL

Feds say insurers not required to pay for employer return to work COVID-19 testing

Since the public health emergency began, the US government has taken the position that insurers shouldn’t be allowed to make consumers pay for COVID-19 lab tests. But now comes news that insurers will not be put in that same position with regard to return to work screening conducted on employees by their employers. FFCRA rules for COVID-19 test payment The key piece of federal relief legislation, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), required insurers to cover COVID-19 tests without imposing any copayments, deductibles, coinsurance or other patient cost-sharing. But the rule (Section 6001 of FFCRA) rule applied only to tests deemed “medically appropriate” by a healthcare provider. The key question: Would insurers also have to foot the bill for screening tests not used for diagnosis and treatment? Apparently, the answer… . . . read more

Tool: Model COVID-19 Medical Screening Policy

Regulators have made it clear that given the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may implement pre-screening measures to ensure that people who have or may have the virus don’t get into work and spread it to others. But limits still apply and you can get into a lot of trouble if you don’t follow them. Here’s a Model Policy your firm can adapt that provides for the necessary privacy, health and safety, non-discrimination and other protections.

CORONAVIRUS

What employees and managers can do to protect each other

By Lynne Curry bio I’m scared. I don’t feel like my boss or coworkers are taking COVID-19 seriously. The medical professionals say we should be wiping down high-touch places. In our office, I’m the one who does it. So does that make me on the front line? Does my doing all this cleaning let everyone else feel safer so they don’t think they need to do anything? It would be fair if we rotated the cleaning but I can’t count on anyone else doing a good job so I “suck it up, Buttercup.” My mom works for a large company. When her coworker picked up his son from the airport, the coworker and his family remained at home for fourteen days due to hosting someone who recently traveled, despite the… . . . read more


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