City firms plan lawyers’ return
Law firms across the City are busy putting plans in place to ensure they can keep their lawyers safe and well when they eventually return to the office.
Hogan Lovells confirmed it is working with an independent senior clinician on a post-pandemic action plan, which features measures including physical distancing in the office, increased hygiene practices and flexible working options.
Susan Bright, managing partner of Hogan Lovells’ UK and Africa offices, said:
“In practice, we expect this to involve our people wearing masks in common areas, restricting the number of people using lifts simultaneously, providing significant quantities of hand sanitiser, physical distancing in meeting rooms, continued video and other electronic conferencing, and reducing the number of people in the office by implementing a rota system so you only come in certain days of the week.”
As lockdown measures across the UK slowly ease, the FT reports that Fieldfisher is putting together “COVID-19 packs” containing new office essentials such as face masks, hand sanitiser and desk wipes. It has also closed off 75% of desk space and will be controlling circulation routes with a one-way walking system.
Michael Chissick, managing partner at Fieldfisher, said: “As a firm, we’re being proactive in how we respond to the easing of the lockdown, ensuring that we are prioritising our employees concerns for the safety and wellbeing of not only themselves but their families.”
He continued: “Therefore, we are planning the gradual re-opening of our offices by consulting with a health and safety team with representatives from all UK offices. We are starting with only 10% returning and gradually increasing this to 25%. This is voluntary and where people cannot work from home.”
Chissick also confirmed the firm will introduce “non-obligatory temperature testing” for employees.
Elsewhere, Baker McKenzie is considering dividing its workforce into groups that will take turns to work in the office, while Norton Rose Fulbright planned to supply staff with face masks to use in open-plan areas.
The FT report also reveals that a Law Society-led group featuring 14 top City players held a number of meetings (online, of course) to discuss office life in a post-pandemic world. The measures reportedly on the table include plastic shields in canteen areas, removal of desks and one-way systems in narrow corridors.