Working from home has been enforced on many of us suddenly. Some like it, some don't and some will be used, at least in part, to it already. No doubt, our working world has changed forever but, in the short term, from a risk management perspective, there are things that we shouldn't forget and still need to be adhered to protect both the individual and the business.
Although systems and procedures are being adapted to take account of our new working circumstances, initially we see these as being concentrated on practical matters, such as access to IT, arranging for signatures to be witnessed properly when we cannot attend clients, but ways must be found to also adapt supervisory procedures.
Not having immediate access to a supervisor, on the next desk or a 30 second walk away, can lead to pressures where work is progressed unchecked or even unchallenged. Communication is key here; appropriate and regular contact with your team and supervisors is vital. Put in place an adapted process whereby a chain is established and both those higher and lower in the chain feel free to pick up the phone or send an email before something is finalised. Perhaps make use of video conferencing to communicate better or create a secure portal where work can be uploaded so that it can be checked by a supervisor remotely. Stay in contact with each other, talk, don't feel like you are alone.
2. File reviews
Just as important as supervision, but potentially easier to deal with, are file reviews.They cannot be left undone, just because an emergency situation makes us work from home.
Most law firms have electronic filing and it should be easy, if not already done, to grant access to the auditor. If you have had paper files or part paper files, then the business should arrange emergency access to the office for the paper to be scanned from the office and then added to the electronic one.
The important thing to remember about both the points being made, is that they cannot take a back seat just because we all find ourselves in an unusual situation. Whilst we must take every effort to protect our health and the health of others, we are also responsible for protecting the health of the business. Unsupervised and unchecked files will inevitably lead to PII claims, a very unhealthy occurrence.
Although we must follow government guidance on Covid-19 and retain an audit trail of this, if complaints or claims are received in the future that you can prove only occurred through following those guidelines, it will be much harder for those to be substantiated against you.
We hope you find this brief note to be of interest and useful, if you need any further guidance please contact your Lockton Account Executive.