Law Firms in SE Asia inching back to the office

The COVID-19 outbreak has severely disrupted normal life in Southeast Asia, forcing a big chunk of the region’s workforce to work from home, lawyers not exempted. But as the number of cases subsides in certain countries, and governments attempt to bring economies back on track, offices are beginning to reopen.

However, law firms say that given the potential for another spike in cases of this highly contagious disease, no reopening approach can be too cautious.

Patrick Ang, managing partner of Rajah & Tann Singapore, says that the firm has a slew of social distancing measures in place, which were enhanced during the circuit-breaker (Singapore’s term to describe its lockdown) period

.“We are maintaining a two-team segregation system, so that even if a lawyer needs to go to the office, he should only be in the office according to the schedule. In addition, we have temperature checks, health declarations, staggered hours, seating one metre apart, and a maximum number of people in the office at any one time,” Ang says.

Voicing similar thoughts is Indonesia’s Assegaf Hamzah & Partners (AHP) which plans on reopening the office around mid-June.Bono Daru Adji, AHP’s managing partner, says that the firm will be implementing social restriction measures in the office including “dividing our lawyers and business professionals into two segregated teams based on their current seating arrangement to ensure that there is a minimum of one-meter distance between each person.”

“We will also be limiting the number of people inside common areas. Further, a staff member will measure the body temperature of each person attending the office and those using public transport must bring a pair of spare clothes to change into before entering the office,” Adji adds.