How to Protect your Process Serving Business from COVID-19
- March 13, 2020
- by ServeNow Staff
News about COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is blasting over news channels, social media feeds, and in regular conversation. Whether you are stocking up on toilet paper or think the reaction is overblown, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your process serving business from the coronavirus.
Impact on the Process Serving Industry
While there are industries that are clearly impacted by the virus and its spread, such as event coordination or Corona beer, the effect on the process serving industry may not be as evident. However, it is important to not dismiss the virus as irrelevant simply because you haven’t felt it directly yet.
Many process servers have expressed concern that local courts will close and not be able to file cases. In fact, this has already happened in various counties. Closed courts mean an inability to file new cases which leads to fewer papers needing to be served. Other servers have accepted fewer jobs as they want to avoid areas with confirmed cases. Still other servers have encountered issues while serving at businesses that have shut down, such as universities. As it continues, the virus may cause further challenges for process servers specifically. Remember that you can share your experience or ask for advice via ServeNow’s Facebook community.
COVID Resources for Process Servers
How to Protect your Process Serving Business
Ultimately, you will want to get information about how to protect yourself from the coronavirus via reliable resources such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), but here are some basic actions you can take to protect your business.
Your employees may be sick, afraid to come to work, caring for sick family members, or caring for children since schools have shut down. Enable them to stay home and work remotely. See this article by Jared Correia (law firm business and technology consultant) for advice that law firms are using to establish a solid remote work system. If you haven’t already moved your business to the cloud, now is a perfect time. It not only provides business continuity in the midst of natural disasters and pandemics but also saves you money and provides flexibility in the long run. Keep in mind that, in order to allow your employees to work from home, you’ll need access to the cloud, a way to communicate, and increased security in the form of a VPN (encrypted connectivity) and secure online storage. Tools that enable this include the video conferencing application Zoom, Slack for team communication, and ServeManager, a software management system that is completely online.
If you do continue to operate out of your office, which isn’t recommended, set up and communicate expectations for both employees and those visiting your office. Educate them about proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and social distancing. Also remind them to touch their face, especially their mouth, as little as possible if at all. Hang up signs that clearly lay out these healthy habits. Regularly clean all surfaces and keep up a supply of infection control supplies such as soap, tissues, and hand sanitizer.
Anticipate the worst
In a worst-case scenario, the number of jobs that your business normally handles may decline significantly. Even if you think this is unlikely to happen, it’s something your business should be prepared for. Think about what you will do if you have staffing shortages and create a consistent HR strategy to handle these absences.
One of the best things you can do to protect your business and keep your employees safe and calm is to communicate with them. Do not dance around the truth. If you are not sure when business will return to normal, express this and send regular updates as things change. Also, speak with clients and defendants when possible.
Advice from Servers
Gail Kagan, owner of A Subpoena and past president of the NYSPPSA, shared what her office is doing to combat the spread of the coronavirus. In the field, she is encouraging her servers to keep their distance, at least four feet, from the people they are serving. They are also advised to keep hand sanitizer in their cars and to serve businesses during slow hours when fewer people will be there. She’s also communicating her concerns to her clients. She said, “I am personally requesting clients as they call in to try to limit rush services as I am concerned about an eventual drop in servers as neighborhoods close down.” Finally, she’s limiting drop-ins and asking people to make an appointment if they want to visit the office. Part of this is eFiling. “Most of our clients allow us to eFile for them so we have the Supreme Court and Federal Court system covered, leaving only the local courts that need to be hand-delivered.”
In-office, most of her staff have transitioned to working remotely. She says she is still perfecting the details of this system, but this is how she has implemented the change so far:
- Her staff all have notebook computers and printers set up with everything they need.
- All office staff have scheduled times in which to talk to each other in the morning and right before the close of business. Their discussions involve daily to-do lists, priorities, and rushes.
- They have a means of communicating when necessary during the day, whether through talking or texting.
- They use Google Docs to share files.
- They use ServeManager, an internet-based software management system.
Similarly, Ron Rugen of Action Legal Process is taking new precautions in how he conducts his serves. He is wearing gloves and stepping back at least six feet after he knocks on the door. He is also offering to read the papers out loud after the defendant has identified themselves. This way, they don’t even have to open the door to be served.
In order to protect yourself and your business, it’s important to know as much as you can about COVID-19. Remember to get your information from reliable sources, such as the CDC, since misinformation runs rampant in times of panic.
What is social distancing?
There’s a lot of buzz online about social distancing but what does this actually mean? Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between yourself and others in order to stop the spread of illness. Anything that requires you to be within six feet of another person should be avoided. This is why concerts, sporting events, and other gatherings have been canceled. It’s also why working from home is currently the best option. Remember that even if you are the pinnacle of health and don’t feel threatened by the virus, you still have the potential to spread it to someone for which the virus could be fatal. That’s why you should stay home even if you’re healthy.
Wash your hands
Hopefully washing your hands is already a habit, but there are some tips to keep in mind to make your washing more productive. Soap is better than hand sanitizer at killing the virus if it’s on your hands so wash frequently. When you wash, keep your hands soapy for at least 20 seconds. If you need to, Google “20 second songs” to find one you can jam to while washing. Also, remember to wash more than just your palms. Get your thumbs, the tips of your fingers, and your nail beds which have extra cracks and crevices. Even when washing your hands frequently, avoid touching your face or shaking hands with others. If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your face with your elbow.
If you have to physically serve, be very aware of how you conduct yourself. Clean your hands with hand sanitizer before you approach the residence and don’t touch your face until you return to your vehicle. Ring the doorbell and back away from the door as much as possible. Once someone answers, confirm their identity and inform them they’ve been served before placing the papers on the porch.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, dry cough, aches, and tiredness. A person may be sick for 1 to 14 days before they develop symptoms and is contagious during this time. According to the CDC, 80% recover from the virus without special medical treatment. Those with other medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease are more likely to develop a serious case.
Ultimately, safety and well-being comes first. By using these tips and staying mindful, you can stay safe if you have to remain in the field. But do whatever you have to do to maintain your health. According to the experts, the best way to do this is by staying home and practicing social distancing. If you can afford to, stay home.