“Big Atlanta Firms Gradually Embark on Reopening”
As Atlanta’s biggest firms start reopening their offices after closing in response to COVID-19, Swift Currie was praised for its novel approach by the Daily Report on June 18, 2020. The firm began phase one of its return weeks before some of the city's largest firms by taking cautious steps to ensure the safety of attorneys and staff.
“We’ve been more aggressive than some firms, so we’ve worked really hard to get this right,” said Mike Rosetti, partner and Executive Committee member a part of the firm’s reopening task force.
Swift Currie has the most restrictive space usage plan of the nine firms the Daily Report interviewed. The firm has divided its four floors of office space (100,000 square feet) into 15 color-coded zones of about 20 people to maintain safe social distance. Employees remain in their zone throughout the workday to limit potential infection and a zone leader keeps log of who is present in the zone.
“We’re pretty strict about it,” Rosetti said. If attorneys want to meet with an attorney from another zone, they must go outside the building. “One of our partners has become famous for his meetings,” Rosetti added, as they entail a walk around the block to Ansley Park while discussing case strategy.
After nearly everyone at the firm worked from home beginning March 13, Swift Currie began the initial re-entry phase on May 18 when approximately one-third of lawyers and staff returned on a voluntary basis. Another one-third returned on June 1, and phase three saw an almost full return on Monday, June 15. Still, employees with health concerns and childcare needs remain able to work remotely.
While working remotely has proven functional, Rosetti explained that the quick return was meant to return to the level of collaboration that is a hallmark of the firm’s culture.
The three-phase approach was meant to accommodate people’s varying comfort levels, from the eager-to-return to the highly cautious. In phase three, employees are rotating in and out of the office while also working remotely. “We’ll keep to staggered schedules for the foreseeable future until people are comfortable with a full return to the office.”
All of the firm’s attorneys and most paralegals have offices, and the firm has reorganized furniture and installed plexiglass barriers for added safety. People can also post a sign outside their workspace asking others to call or email rather than enter to ensure they are communicating in a way they are comfortable with the ways they collaborate.
The firm also provided all employees with hand sanitizer, door-opening gadgets and masks — complete with the Swift Currie logo.
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