New Decade, New Normal and New Work EnvironmentMay 4, 2020 | Posted at 12:00 pm
Written by Joanna Davis, Legal Placements, Inc.
I hope this article finds everyone safe and in good health and spirits.
We entered the new decade of 2020 with the unemployment rate at a near half century low at 3.6%. Many businesses were aggressively planning to hire more staff and received approval for newly created positions. Then the pandemic hit, in mid-March, many offices quickly closed and had to swiftly roll out a remote work model, others elected to also have essential staff onsite. Everyone needed to do what was necessary to make certain operations continued with little disruption.
By April of 2020 we were faced with a rapidly increasing unemployment rate. In a New York Times article dated April 16, 2020 Tosten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities indicated that the unemployment rate is expected to hit 17% in April. To say much has changed in a very short time frame would be an understatement.
Employers were faced with determining what the best course of action might be in handling this unprecedented issue of Covid-19. As changes in standard business operation procedures were altered, industries found themselves navigating through an environment which is far from “business as usual” and the ability to adapt became a vital component of the new work paradigm.
As with all industries, staffing and recruiting was impacted, and the approach to recruiting and hiring quickly changed. Employers placed active job vacancies on hold, waiting to determine how they will hopefully move forward when Covid-19 is safely in the rearview.
These issues, along with the continued unpredictability, have created some changes within recruiting and staffing. Companies are closely evaluating the need for positions, ensuring headcount properly aligns with their present business strategy. While recruiting efforts in the professional services arena continue, albeit at a much slower pace, the approach and landscape of the process has been redesigned to adjust to this, “new normal workplace”.
As attorneys, staff and hiring managers, etc. are working remotely, technology has been embraced with candidates now participating in much of the interview process via video or conference call interviews. With the process a bit more streamlined there has been less lag time between levels of interviews and the prospect of hiring a candidate after a series of video interviews has been a reality for both employers and employees. Once a new hire has been made, employers are tasked with conducting orientations, on-boarding and managing new hires remotely.
This new landscape also has created a remote work model for some temporary or contingent staff at firms as well. While the situation of Covid -19 is fluid we continue to partner with our clients and candidates to find staffing solutions. Firms transitioned contract attorneys to conduct virtual reviews, and some firms made arrangements for legal secretaries, paralegals, administrative staff, intake staff and docketing specialists to continue to provide remote support to a practice group or department. Companies have provided firm-issued laptops or have requested LPI to provide laptops for contract/temporary staff. Multiple tools were established and put in place to ensure client confidentiality and data security. The ability to pivot change and move forward in an alternative direction has allowed our contract staff to seamlessly and successfully provide the necessary support.
Reflecting on what has occurred over the last few months, the ingenuity and flexibility that industries across the globe have demonstrated in the face of sudden change and undaunting challenges is both overwhelming and impressive. Through all of this, one of the common denominators we share is recognizing that we are a strong community and through creativity and adaptability and a host of other factors, we will weather this unknown territory together.
Author’s Bio: Joanna Davis is Director of Sales for the Support Staff Division of Legal Placements, Inc.(LPI). She has been working in the staffing industry for a number of years and has been a member of the LPI team for over 22 years. She is an active Business Partner with the Capital Chapter Association of Legal Administrators and a member of Law Firm Vendors Association. Joanna can be reached at email@example.com
 Schwartz, Nelson D. New York Times. 16 April 2020. ://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/business/economy/unemployment-numbers-coronavirus.html