When Winter Storms Wreak Havoc On Employee Commute, Why Law Firms Don’t Have To Suffer

This weekend into Monday, the New England area underwent a bombogenesis… now there’s a term you don’t see everyday.

The term generally refers to a storm whose minimum pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, according to meteorologists; in layman’s words? The storm was really strong and rapidly intensifying!

Snow and strong winds were proof of the bombogenesis that bombarded most of New England yesterday. Winter Storm Mars created blizzard conditions in a large part of Massachusetts, covering the city of Orleans with 10 inches of snowfall. However, Mars did not spare other States of its tempest, hitting Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maine.

New York’s JFK Airport cancelled 50 flights; LaGuardia airport cancelled more than 300 flights; and airports and Boston and New Jersey faced extensive delays and cancellations, according to FlightAware.com.

Hundreds of public schools were cancelled on Friday and Connecticut alone witnessed 258 car crashes. If your daily commute was already slow, let’s face it, Friday and Monday were the worst.

All these reasons and more are why your firm should pay for your employees’ commute. When it’s cold or stormy outside, the last thing employees want to do is head to the office. In fact, the winter months most employees would pay to stay in bed.

But, with the right incentives, your firm can attract happy, productive associates to your benefit.

Retain the employees you value most.

Between heavy snowfall and gas prices, employees find it difficult to justify a long commute to work. What was once an easy freeway drive for 45 minutes can now cost employees as much as $20 extra per day.

The ability to live in safe, cheap suburb, coupled by the additional time necessary to drive to work is enough to drive away your best talent.

In order to retain the employees you value most, offer to pay their commute to work. It serves as real-money savings as well as good-will gesture.

Move your office to cheaper real estate.

If your firm is headed into the black, it may be time to move house. But finding more affordable real estate may lead to a loss in willing workers.

With the right location, the difference in rent should more than cover an offer to pay employee commuter costs.

Changing offices could be just what the doctor ordered to revive your ailing accounting. Travel stipends will limit the internal grumbling.

Incentivize your employees to work weekends.

Snowday Friday? Schools cancelled? No problem. Close up shop and move meetings to Saturday. Have the firm pick up the tab for food and transport. Friday can be spent with the kids who are home from school and Saturday will make up for lost time on the company dime. That’s something employees can stomach.

Allow the occasional telecommuting.

Bringing home proprietary or confidential client information is a real concern. It’s why a lot of firms force employees to be at the office for all casework. In these instances, use transport stipends to substitute for telecommuting options.

Provide monetary compensation—and get creative—for traveling to and from the office with extra dispensation for rush hour, after-hours, or weekends.

At the same time, understand that some weather-related (or child-related) emergencies just can’t be helped. Don’t throw a fuss when employees call out for the occasional telecommute.

Forbidding telecommuting totally will likely be ill-received by your staff.

Find a reason for hope (and savings) to transform snow days into productive, morale-raising days. Your firm, and its employees, can benefit equally from seasonal changes and tropical storms.

-WB

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