The goddamned Omicron variant is messing up a lot of shit. Just when we thought we’d kinda maybe sorta gotten ahold of COVID, this pops up. Now everything is a disaster: fantasy football playoffs, holiday plans, SantaCon… and Biglaw’s office plans.
How each Biglaw firm was dealing with getting back to the office was already compromised by the last scary variant, Delta. But at Sidley, they’d settled into returning to the office on November 1 (with “flexibility”), encouraging vaccinations, and handing out earpods for their efforts. But now Omicron has forced a change.
As detailed in an email sent to all New York personnel (available below), the firm will no longer allow unvaccinated folks (only 3 percent of employees) into the office. (They previously had to submit weekly negative COVID tests.) Additionally, while the firm had always preached “flexibility” in working from home arrangements, Sidley employees are now given some specific advice. If you or anyone in your house is experiencing “even a slight cold, allergy, or sinus inflection symptoms,” then stay home. If you or anyone in your house receives a positive test or even an exposure, stay home.
This is incredibly useful. Because as nice as “flexibility” sounds, without specific guidance, that reality is coming into the office every single day. Given the current COVID infection rate in NYC, one imagines a ton of folks have been recently exposed, even if they don’t have it. Plus colds, the flu, allergies, and everything else that can cause folks to experience symptoms… well, that’s a hefty percentage falling into that work-from-home guidance.
Hopefully it is enough to weather the Omicron storm.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).