This question was posted to the PLLIP MyCommunities page on September 16, 2021. 

We’re Open!

  • We opened up on September 3.  Before that secretaries were coming in 2 days a week.  Associates are encouraged to be in the office, some partners are not coming very much.  I, the librarian, have been coming in 1 day a week for the last 16 months and I can continue with that schedule.  We are a firm of about 30 attorneys.  Most of the large firms in the area are not back in full time.
  • We have been asked to be in the office at least 2 days a week since July 6.  They had expected to change that to 3 days per week after Labor Day, but we’re still on 2 days a week because of the increase in cases.  This isn’t a hard mandate (I don’t know if they’re checking), and we’re not required to select the days and stick to a schedule.
  • Our offices are open, and we are welcome to work in the office if we want to, or need to, but we’re not currently required to be in the office.   There are no incentives for coming in, but they were rewarding those of us who are in with lunches or special afternoon snacks.  I think the lunch ordering became problematic, because that has stopped.  But, they did issue gift cards to local food places as a thank you for those who have been coming in. Nothing has been said about when we would be re-opening, or what the options would be once we do.
  • The office reopened after the July 4th holiday with a hybrid schedule.  They request 3 days on site and 2 days remote per week. This change is supposed to be permanent going forward.  They also relaxed the dress code so that we can wear jeans every day, and have been bringing in free lunch on Wednesdays. As far as I can tell it is working well.  The office is quiet and half full any given day, which is good for social distancing.  They’ve recently asked that we wear masks in hallways and common areas, but not at our desks, due to the unfortunate continuing wave here in the state.

Scheduled Return!

  • We are scheduled to return to office 10/25 and have a hybrid option of 3 days in the office, 2 at home; initially we can choose the days we come in, later on there will be some coordination with supervisors, etc.  Our return to office messages have been issued about 2 months before they go into effect, so this is likely to change again as we get closer to the current return date.
  • As of this writing (9/16 at 11 AM, ET)…reopening on 10/18.  Attorneys and staff will be expected to be back in the office 3 days/week.   Staff will be assigned specific days to be in the office.  Wednesday has been designated as a “core” day when they would like everyone to be present, at least in the DC office.  Most staff are back 2 or 3 (or more) days per week already. I personally am going in as needed – lately that’s been 1 day per week.  I’ll go to 3 days/week as of 10/18 (as of this writing).  I believe breakfast is offered on Wednesdays right now, but since I usually go in on Monday or Tuesday, I can’t swear to that.  They were doing happy hours, but those got canceled when Delta hit.
  • For reference we’re a single office firm with around 140 attorneys. We’ve pushed back our return to office plan until October 11th. Since August, only fully vaccinated individuals can come into the office, but unless your job has a component that can only be done at the office (like updating the print collection) you do not have to come in, and there really is no encouragement to do so. You have to show proof of vaccination (sending a copy of the vaccine card to HR). Everyone has to wear masks in any space outside your own office. If you hold a meeting in the office you cannot have beverages or food served as that would necessitate removing your mask. When we do come back to the office we are going to a 50/50 hybrid system that applies to everyone but partners (who can of course work wherever they like!). You’re expected to be in the office 10 work days of a 20 work day month. How you divide those days can be determined by each department or practice group. So for example, you could work 10 straight days from home, and then 10 in the office, or work 2-3 days a week in the office and the rest from home. We’re encouraged to have 1-2 days a month that the entire department is in the office – though that may not be possible for groups that are hoteling (the library is not one of those).
  • Return to office date is week after next globally, save for one office due to move shortly.  Hybrid setup.  Each team will decide for themselves (taking into account previously stated firm guiding principles for remote work) how many days to be in the office per week/month.  This may vary based on role or location within the global team.  We are a global firm. However, in office presence within the global team is by region/location rather than team wide across regions. Certain roles or locations with a regional team may necessitate a difference in office presence than another. For the US team on the east coast that’s 1-2 days a week.  For the US team on the west coast it may vary and we are being flexible in order to successfully recruit there.
  • My firm is going back to the office Oct. 4th and offering a hybrid option that lets managers determine what works best for their teams depending on specific roles and team needs.  For my team we will be back in the office two days a week with everyone in the office on Wednesdays.  Folks can pick what the other day is.  I know the firm is preparing some welcome back gift boxes and has done a nice job of offering training and support for managers to help ensure a smooth transition.
  • We’re expected back in the office by October 18. 50% of our time should be spent in the office, supposedly, so I think that counts as a hybrid option? I have honestly avoided thinking about how the 50% is decided, but the split is determined by department. I think I might be one of the few people in my department who drives to work (everyone else takes public transportation) so I am sitting out on the discussions for the 50% in office schedule.
  • For reference, we’re a regional 125-attorney law firm. Delta Covid stalled the planned “we will all return to working at the office after Labor Day” plans. They continued the previous covid practices for September – some people come into their offices every day, some work in the office 2-3 days/week and remotely for the other days, and some work almost exclusively remotely. Some people have been almost unseen since March 2020 – though they got urged to come in.  Vaccination had been highly encouraged. The firm has been highly responsive to staff needs as well as always on top of the latest science. …Outlook automatically schedules a zoom meeting for every meeting and appointment that’s set up. I go to the office 3 days/week and have heard no complaints so far.
  • We opened up the office on a voluntary basis on July 6th. We had previously been in an appointment-only phase where permission was required (and a business need), as of 7/6 we were all welcome but not required to go in. Most people didn’t. Our current working date for a “full” return is 10/4… …I put “full” in quotation marks because they did roll out flexible work arrangements over the summer, and we could choose to be in the office every day, hybrid, work fully remote, or “work from anywhere” (basically not near an — office). For exempt employees, which all of our library staff is, only working fully remote or “anywhere” required approval. Hybrid is very flexible and does not require a set schedule in the office or a certain number of days. Most of my team will be hybrid.

To Be Determined!

  • We were going to open October 13th. We received an email yesterday (9/15) that reopening is postponed until further notice. The firm decided to wait until they had more concrete information, rather than just picking a new date right now. We do have a mandatory vaccination policy to go into the office. People have begun to go back (and they are using food to get us in). My office has started offering free lunch on Wednesdays. No one on our team has started to go back. We’ll have the option to go back full-time or to have hybrid WFH option.
  • We originally announced in June that we would be required to return to the office at least once per week starting Sept 1.  However, this date got pushed back indefinitely due to the Delta variant and most employees are still currently working remotely. The Firm just announced a new permanent hybrid work schedule option for all U.S. employees (attorneys and staff) – 2 days per week in office and 3 days remote.  They are providing us with some flexibility as to which days we want to report and which days we would like to work remotely, but they are asking all employees to propose a fixed weekly schedule so that local office management can track and report office capacity in line with local COVID guidelines. There is no official return date as of yet, but all U.S. offices are currently open to those who are fully vaccinated.
  • At our firm we are still 100% remote.  We have a tentative date to return to the office in October, but that is contingent on COVID numbers.  The firm is offering hybrid options once we do return to the office, including fully remote schedules.  The firm has also mandated vaccinations with a testing option.
  • We keep changing every few weeks. We were supposed to be hybrid after Labor Day for those who needed to be or wanted to be in office. Our research team was asked to stay remote unless we wanted to be hybrid. Only 1-2 people wanted that. They were trying to have days, 1-2 times a month to get everyone in the office. Usually with lunch and or events. Now we are probably looking at Q1 of next year but myself had asked for permission for a permanent remote. It was granted but nothing was given in writing. So I can’t move or do anything major.
  • We were scheduled to return on a Hybrid schedule starting September 13th. We were to be in the office for approximately 3 days. In late August, our office return was delayed indefinitely.  Vaccinated staff can request to come and work in the office if they desire. Masks required for all unless in a private office with the door closed.
  • Our office is not going hybrid. We have been back in the office in full since roughly July, although as needed accommodation to work from home (for attorneys only) has been allowed.  In the office, we mask up when leaving our desks and continue with social distance protocol.
  • We are planning to have the librarians work a hybrid schedule starting in November. For now, we are working remotely unless we need to go into the office to retrieve a book, work on inventories, etc. We can go into the office if we prefer working on-site, but it is not required. Masks are required in common areas of the building. The firm is providing lunch for employees working on-site several days each week.
  • We announced in late August that we will return to the office full-time no earlier than October 12. All US offices remain open to all who wish to come in. No word on remote work possibilities.
  • Our firm is asking everyone back in January (after moving that deadline from September). And they’ve created a hybrid staff option of working from home 2 days a week once we all are back.
  • We were told last week that the soonest back to the office is now January 3.
  • Our firm had a “soft opening” on 7/7, which was completely optional. Employees can come into the office or work remotely and can choose which days to go in if they are doing so. There are a few exceptions for our Office Services staff (who were in throughout the entire pandemic) and our Records clerks who are required to be in 5 days a week. Masks are required in all common areas (including the Library) and if more than one person is in a private office, unless you are actively eating, in which case employees should be 6 ft. apart. The option to work remotely will be available until at least 3/31/2022. After that, I think it will be on a department-by-department basis, but that hasn’t been determined yet. I manage the KM & Library Department, which reports to the CIO, and I predict that we will be very flexible with hybrid/remote schedules after that. Employees must be vaccinated if they choose to go in. If an employee is required to go in for business reasons and they are not vaccinated, then they must submit a negative test result that HR provides. Outside vendors are required to fill out a form (available on our website) to confirm their vaccination status and that they don’t have symptoms, etc. (similar to going into a doctor’s office). As of a few months ago, ~90% of our staff and attorneys were vaccinated.  All of our offices are offering (individual) breakfast and lunch on Wednesdays, for those who choose to go in.
  • To be honest, I’m not totally sure where we stand on a lot of this stuff which is a bit reflective of our firm’s somewhat soft approach and the “official” date seems to keep getting pushed back and I’m not sure where we currently stand.  Our firm has mentioned some general ideas and guidelines, but the ultimate requirement for in-office work is generally determined depending on departments and roles.  I think most employees will have a hybrid option. The firm offices have been open for a while, but we’re almost completely optional right now. The Library/Research Department here has a lot of experience, so we generally have a decent amount of flexibility as to where we decide to work. The firm was offering some weekly lunch stipends to encourage people to come in.  Those stipends varied by location I think.  I think they’re still being offered, but I’m not sure. I’ve personally been trying to get into the office 2 times per week, but that’s primarily personal choice with the occasional need to check on physical books (orders and/or materials in our collection).  I enjoy the hybrid model, so enjoy getting out of the house and seeing people from time to time. In short, I think our firm has had a great approach and has done a great job of empowering employees to work remotely and recognizing that a hard push on everybody-back-to-work-all-the-time will be received poorly.
  • Our firm has “Yogurt & Fruits Monday”, “Bagels Friday”, “Birthday Donuts” once a month and a special “Get Together Lunch Event” at least once a month.
  • Our original plan was to have everyone back at work in the office beginning on Sept. 7, 2021. There is no official return date yet, but it is looking like we will not return back to the office until sometime in 2022. We were to work in the office Monday – Thursday. Everyone is allowed to work from home on Fridays. Attorneys are able to work an additional day from home. Staff are not given that option. Initially lunch was an enticement. I am concerned that climate change is not mentioned in any of these conversations. If we are to have any impact on climate change, ALL of us need to make changes to what we are currently doing. Working from home full-time or more than one day a week, would help with less pollution and less traffic congestion. I have significantly lowered my global footprint by not driving and not flying. It is as if there is no climate change issue and everything will go back to the way it was before the pandemic and the climate will continue to get worse. I know it will get worse anyway, but making no changes to what we are currently doing will help it to get worse quicker.

For more information on how law firms are handling reopening, Above the Law has a tracker! The Great Law Firm Reopening Tracker: Vaccination Mandates Are Trending Thanks To The Delta Variant

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