As the song goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For many businesses, including your own law practice, it might also be time for the annual decision – should your office stay open or shut down over the holidays?
A few things to consider if you decide to close:
- Provide plenty of advance warning!
Beginning in early December, you should provide advance notice to clients, staff, colleagues and vendors, that your office will be closing for the holidays, including the date of closure and re-opening. It is also best practice to include an emergency contact.
A notice about your holiday closure should be posted in your reception area and on your website. All voicemails and email signatures should contain this notice well in advance. A brightly coloured addition to your email signature is an effective way to let contacts know about your holiday closure. Consider providing a pre-approved email signature template to all staff for a consistent look and feel.
- Assess your clients’ needs
For those clients who seem to have urgent matters on a constant basis, we recommend giving a courtesy call early in December to advise and work out your schedule, giving priority to key matters. You may also want to remind them that the courts are closed.
- Maintain a connection with the practice
A full office closure may not be practicable. You may consider:
• Making arrangements to check messages.
• Ensuring all employees can access messages remotely or arrange for a scheduled checking of a common mailbox.
• Scheduling at least one lawyer to be available for emergency matters.
• Monitoring the office space on a regular basis. You may find that some staff members plan to be at the office during the holiday break to catch up on work. It may be a good idea to schedule office monitoring around those planning to do so.
- Consider Office Equipment
Before you close, back-up computer data and test to make sure the system works, turn off and unplug all electronics that are not needed over the holidays. You may also consider turning down the heat in the office.
- Contingency Planning
Make sure that you have a contingency plan in the case that key staff members are not able to return to the office when expected. In addition to catastrophic events, there are always winter storms, travel delays and other situations that can interfere with the best laid of plans!
Personal wellness is key to happy and productive lawyers and office staff. The holidays are a good opportunity to allow yourself and your staff to enjoy some time off and recharge your batteries.
- Have a happy and safe holiday season