"Flatten the Curve." This is not a Flat-Earther motto, but a worldwide goal to minimize the coronavirus by hindering the spread of the infection. Social distancing is key, but as of March 26th, there is still no federal mandate to shelter-in-place, and as Chicago found out just this week, warming weather causes many to disregard these executive orders (which in turn caused Mayor Lori Lightfoot to close down the parks).
All these factors pile up against our race to flatten the curve, and work against our goal to contain the spread. Meaning we could be experiencing these Shelter-In-Place orders for longer than anyone would truly like.
This makes it all the more important for law firms to innovate, adapt, and keep business running even from their homes, and we have a few tips to help.
Pick up the phone and give people a call
Friendliness. A new person to talk to. A reassuring voice. There are many reasons why this is our top tip. We are doing it ourselves: Amata staff members have been calling clients daily checking in on how they are doing, assuring them their firms are in good hands at Amata and asking if they need any help or training on our office services.
As a lawyer, calling existing clients and letting them know you’re still doing everything possible to work on their case (even though the courts are closed) can be a great way to keep the client relationship connection strong, and give not only reassurance, but great customer service during a trying time. The not so obvious tip is to also call your staff, peers, mentors, and people in your network regularly as well; more often than you normally would. The idea is to make up for lost time around the watercooler (so to speak). Better yet, schedule video conferences and invite a handful of people! There is no reason for social time, networking, and business to grind to a halt, and video conferences can reestablish a normalcy in performing all those tasks while we observe the current Shelter-in-Place order.
Commit to new technology
Now may not seem to be the right time to spend more money. But if your firm is having a hard time working (or even at a standstill) due to a lack of flexible infrastructure, then you may need to reassess that instinct. What happens if you experience Shelter-in-Place for a month? Or for two months? Or more – as this opinion piece from the New York Times suggests is necessary for the orders to be effective?
Your firm has to keep running during this time because you still have business to get done, and that may mean taking new steps and adopting new tech. Find good options, and become prepared for the future. You may be surprised what great new things can be achieved when one is forced to innovate.
We’re a shining example of this tip at work: while Amata has been providing flexible law office services for nearly two decades, over the past two weeks we launched additional services to help our clients. Our 3CX Web & Video Conferencing is now included, free-of-charge, for all clients currently using our 3CX phone services and for everyone who signs up for a phone only, virtual law office, or private office during this time. This service was added due to the COVID-19 crisis and all our services are better now because of it.
Stay secure while working from home
This final tip comes in two-steps -- the first is courtesy of the Amata Law Office Suites preferred technology services provider, Bridgepoint Technologies:
If you and your staff are new to working remotely from home, make sure your setup has a router along with a recommended firewall and that the computer being used has recent updates and virus protection. If you are connecting directly to your business network, only do so through a secure channel such as a VPN or secure remote software. Before doing so, make sure that your wireless network at home has a complicated password with a name that will not personally identify your home. I.e.: Don’t name it: “Smiths House”.
Part two of this step is to check that all employees and staff members have the equipment they need to successfully work from home. At Amata Law Office Suites we just recently started ordering headsets to make conferencing and calling easier now that many of us are using our computers instead of phones to communicate -- having a sturdy Bluetooth headset has been invaluable for our staff during video conferences.