As I write this, COVID-19 has many people quarantined in their houses and unable to work. Fortunately, our office has the equipment, systems, and processes to continue to work even while maintaining “social distance” and even “self-isolation” where necessary. (Please see our video announcement from last week by clicking here). Much to Monty’s dismay, he is staying at home so he only has Kathy to socialize with instead of the entire staff and our clients. No, he doesn’t understand social distancing…
Some of our staff is working from home, and a few are in the office spread out among their various rooms while armed with disinfectant and anti-bacterial wipes. Regardless of where people are stationed, all of the work and inquiries are being handled through email and phone. To accomplish this in as safe a manner as possible, we are doing the following:
- All meetings except signings are being handled by phone or video calls. We have the capacity to do video meetings through Google Hangouts, Zoom, and other programs depending on what is best for our clients.
- All work is being coordinated by our staff at their various locations using an office chat and our usual client management systems.
- No clients are being allowed in the office itself at this time.
Since much of what we do for our clients means planning documents have to be signed, witnessed, and notarized, we plan to resume signing meetings after our original deadline of April 1 barring any changes imposed by the governor or CDC. However, even then, they will be conducted as “drive through” signings. We will have a folding table and chairs set up in the office parking lot which will be sanitized prior to laying out the documents. I will conduct the signings with gloves and a mask on while maintaining a distance of at least six feet. The witnesses will be standing as far away as possible while still being able to see the signatures being made. Once all of the documents are signed, the clients will get back into their car. Our witnesses, also wearing gloves, will witness in all of the appropriate places, and I will notarize the documents, place them into the binder, and wipe the binder down.
As an added precaution, I’ll then place the binder in a plastic bag, put the bag in the client’s trunk or back seat, and then the clients should not touch the binder for at least three days, consistent with a study by the National Institutes of Health, just to make sure the virus has not lingered on any surfaces.
These new processes are not the ideal way we want to interact with our clients. However, our clients have a particular urge to make sure their plans are in order and documents are up to date during this time of crisis, so we will take the extra precautions just to make sure we can accommodate their goals while also being keeping them and our staff safe.