Our Ongoing Commitment to Client Service
As we continue to face the challenges of this pandemic, Norris McLaughlin has maintained a steadfast commitment to providing a high level of service that our clients have come to expect. We formed task forces within our firm to stay on top of legal developments and monitor legislation and executive orders at all levels to ensure we are communicating the very latest information to our clients. This is an approach we have followed consistently and that, over the years, has made Norris McLaughlin a go-to resource for our clients and business colleagues.
As we monitor and follow each state’s plan for reopening, it is important to note that the return dates for each of our offices differ and they have shifted as dictated by the health and welfare of our local communities, in conjunction with the direction of the Governors of each state, our local building managers, and of course most importantly, guidance from the science and data experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Our Plans to Safely Return To the Office
Returning to the office full-time after a lengthy absence requires that we regularly update our safety procedures and prevention measures to ensure that each person entering any of our offices enjoys a safe visit. This includes, but is not limited to, providing access to hand sanitizer stations, disinfectant wipes, surgical face masks or cloth face coverings, as well outlining a schedule of cleaning and disinfecting protocols, conducting a review of air-filtration systems, purchasing and installing shields for our reception desks, and establishing (and enforcing) social distancing guidelines.
We established a committee to study our workspace to ensure that enough distance exists between workstations and areas where our employees or guests of the firm may gather, including copier stations, the receptionist desk, break rooms, and other common areas. In visiting our office, you will notice many modifications to the layout and furniture to comply with these guidelines. In addition to limited seating in our conference rooms, we have removed most, if not all, of the furniture from our reception lobbies and we reduced seating capacity in our employee break rooms. We’ve also posted conspicuously visible signage throughout our offices to remind employees and guests about these appropriate and mandatory safety measures.
While we recognize that our return to the office is an opportunity to more effectively deliver services to our clients and ignite collaboration with outside business colleagues, we still encourage our attorneys and clients to make use of available technology to conduct virtual meetings by phone or video conference. Furthermore, we will continue to monitor outbreak conditions nationally, as well as in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area, the Lehigh Valley, and within our local communities. In considering our “return to the office,” we have taken advice and guidance from federal, state, and local authoritative resources to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect and promote the health and safety of our clients, visitors, employees, and their families.
COVID-19 Health Screening for Employees and Office Visitors
Additionally, to comply with each state’s requirements to conduct health screens of guests and visitors, we have created an electronic questionnaire that will be delivered to planned guests in advance of their scheduled visit to the office. Considering the need to comply with our region’s travel quarantine advisory, we are implementing this questionnaire firmwide for all offices. In addition to inquiring about recent travel to/from states on the advisory list, the questionnaire will touch on a number of basic questions intended to identify the presence of symptoms and confirm present COVID-19 status, as well as any known exposure to others who have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
While we have taken all necessary precautions to preserve the privacy of information shared with us via this electronic health screen, per HIIPA compliance standards, our guests and visitors are not legally obligated to respond to the health screening, However, and in the interest of and for the safety and welfare of our employees, clients, and invited guests, we reserve the right to refuse admittance to anyone who does NOT complete the health screen or anyone whose responses indicate a situation that may pose a health and safety risk for our employees, clients or visitors to the office. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this “new normal.”
Finally, to better help you prepare for the reopening of your own businesses, we established a new information source – the COVID-19: Back to Business Center – to provide the most current and up-to-date guidance and resources at your fingertips for how to best and most safely get “back to business.” Here you will find links to important federal, state, and local guidance, as well as thought leadership and virtual programs produced by our attorneys that are designed to help you prepare for your “new normal.” As always, and in addition to this new resource, our attorneys are here to assist you and help address any questions you may have as you consider the return to office process for your business.