Baker McKenzie has shut its London office due to a suspected outbreak of the coronavirus infection.

The law firm shuttered the 100 New Bridge Street office on Thursday afternoon as a pre-emptive measure, sending home more than 1,100 people.

RollOnFriday understands a person working at Baker McKenzie recently returned from northern Italy and is now unwell. Sources said the firm will make a decision on Sunday whether to re-open on Monday.

In a statement the firm told RollOnFriday, “Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our people and our clients and we have asked our London office employees to work from home for the time being while we are taking precautionary measures in response to a potential case of the COVID-19.”

”We have a well-established agile working programme - including sophisticated technology and IT systems for home working - which allows us to take these precautionary measures without impacting our client service delivery.”

“We continue to closely monitor the situation and are following the advice and guidance issued by the Government and Public Health England.”


Cor
Or, flee to a remote part of the Highlands. 


It follows confirmation of over 16 cases of coronavirus in the UK. Earlier this week Chevron sent home 300 staff from its Canary Wharf office indefinitely as a precaution, as did two fellow tenants. Their landlord said they were exercising “an abundance of caution”.

Italy now has more than 500 cases of the virus, which authorities there said had so far killed 17 people.

UPDATE: The holidaymaker got the all-clear. A spokesman for Bakers said, “We’re delighted to confirm that our employee has tested negative for the COVID-19 virus and our London office has re-opened today. Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our people and our clients, and we took these pre-emptive measures out of an abundance of caution.”

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Comments

Jellymonster 27 February 20 21:17

They have sophisticated technology. 

 

Pass the sonic screwdriver, I've got some precedents to fill in!

Anonymous 27 February 20 22:07

Most people clock off early on Thursday then WFH on Friday so it won't have an impact. 

Roflcopter 27 February 20 23:29

Meanwhile at SPB we all got a stern memo from some obscure “Chairman” in Cleveland instructing to exercise caution and make sure to “take laptops home every evening so you can bill some sweet billable hours when you’re quarantined as clients take priority”. 
 

I expected no less of the penny-pinching, tightwad bunch holed up in Ohio.

@roflcopter 28 February 20 09:12

Surely worth sharing with RoF, sounds like quite a scoop? Lol @ SPB, what a firm

Happy! 28 February 20 09:31

Kudos to Baker & McKenzie - demonstrating duty of care towards their staff and the fact that they have an agile working policy in place which enables them to shut their office at short notice!  

Anon 28 February 20 10:23

Yes. I wonder how many  firms are as well placed as BM to deal with this type of thing at such short notice.  Their agile working approach - which is the real deal, and not just a policy that no one reads or follows - is a credit to them as a modern and progressive law firm. They took decisive action to act in the interests of their people and clients/suppliers etc.   I guess the question now is what next.  

Anonymous 28 February 20 10:39

My small shop in the provinces is as well placed as BM.  The ability for fee earners to work from home is hardly revolutionary.

Anon 28 February 20 10:51

10:39 - it’s not just the fee earners.  The entire office is working from home (not sure about security officers, FAOD - but feel free to come in and nick our laptops if you want, because we’re all working on them AT HOME).  PAs are working from home too, and do, often.  The networks haven’t fallen over with the number remote working, meetings are happening on Skype.  My biggest fear is they are going to see how well it is working today and use it as an excuse to sell the big office and make us work from home all the time and hire a Regus office round the corner when we need one for meetings. 

Genuinely it’s a place where agile working is accepted and happens. It’s completely unlike anywhere else I have ever worked.  

Anon 28 February 20 11:34

10:51 - that's the future anyway, isn't it? Spending millions on central London office space is mad, whether it's looking at your firm bank balance, the environment or your employee well being.

Anon 28 February 20 12:18

I thought it was well known Bakers were moving offices anyway, and looking to downsize to a more modern place and expecting WFH even more?  

Anon 28 February 20 13:22

Bakers aren’t looking to downsize. The potential office move is because they expect continued growth and the current office can’t accommodate that.  And agile working doesn’t mean everyone wfh all the time.  That’s not agile, it’s static.  Also, you can’t maintain a good firm culture and team spirit without regular human interaction, not just by Skype, so doubt Bakers, or any other big firm, are likely to go down the Regus office route anytime in our lifetimes.

SPB 28 February 20 13:36

Roflcopter is right about SPB... Some colleagues have just returned from northern Italy... Office still up and running as usual...

Ex employee 28 February 20 17:33

Hope all are well.  They have excellent agile working can run the business remotely easily which is a bonus.  Other firms should take note

Anon 01 March 20 22:31

False alarm - employee tested negative thankfully. They’ll all be back in the office tomorrow.