How should in-house lawyers deal with working from home during the COVID-19 crisis?

An article suggests “unplugging” at the end of the workday

How should in-house lawyers deal with working from home during the COVID-19 crisis?

Given that many businesses have shuttered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, in-house lawyers may now be struggling to come to terms with newly implemented work-from-home arrangements.

While lawyering has been identified as an essential or priority service both by Ontario and by Quebec amidst widespread business closures in those provinces, in-house lawyers may be bound by the remote working policies imposed by their companies. They should therefore learn how to adjust to the unique difficulties that arise when working from home.

In an article for the ACC Docket titled “Adjusting to the New Normal: Teleworking,” Danielle Maldonado provided a number of tips for in-house lawyers dealing with remote work for the first time.

Maldonado emphasized the importance of prioritizing one’s mental health and maintaining a positive outlook despite everything going on. One way to do this, she said, was by keeping in touch with one’s friends. While the social distancing measures imposed by the public health authorities discourage in-person meet-ups, one can still connect with others through phone calls or video-chat.

She also said that sticking to one’s routine could help to smooth the transition, while the leftover time ordinarily spent for one’s daily commute could be used to spice up the old routine with new activities.

To maximize productivity while maintaining a work-life balance, have a defined work space and prepare a schedule with designated break times, she said. Drawing a clear line between one’s work life and home life despite working at home, she said, would help one recharge during the off times and focus during the “busy blocks.”

She also recommended turning off or logging out of devices once the workday ends. “If you leave your devices on, it can be hard to ignore notifications, and if you respond, it will tell your colleagues you’re still available,” she said.

The Ontario Bar Association also recently released some wellness resources for lawyers to develop healthy habits as they work from home.

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