b'PEOPLE| LEGAL SECTOR| 2021SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTPHYSICAL WELLBEINGChallenges and OpportunitiesWe know that the promotion of positive, healthy lifestyle initiatives is fundamental to reducing chronic health conditions as well as promoting happiness and productivity. The COVID remote working arrangements across Australia and specifically in Melbourne and Sydney have been extensive. They happened without the opportunity to fully understand and mitigate the risks in advance and with limited capacity to immediately revamp firms health and wellbeing programs for staff working from home. It is likely that many employees now face poorer health and wellbeing arising from remote home working environments. The challenge is how to deliver this health support in a COVID environment. While the benefits of proactively promoting good health, and rapidly addressing ill health of a workforce are undisputed the tools and practices required to do this with a remote workforce and without face-to-face contact needs to be developed and refined. The first challenge is to identify and better understand the range of working environments and work practices and to connect them to observed and potential health issues. In the short-term firms need to increase their commitment to and leadership of health and wellbeing and increase their vigilance. New programs should include processes that gather information from staff and their managers to assist with the development of a methodology for the setting of objectives and targets and measurement of program impacts.The risks of poor ergonomics and poor work habits pose a significant risk of repetitive stress and illnesses caused by inactivity and sitting poorly. Under the COVID restrictions it has been difficult to quickly identify the amount of risk and to supply correct furniture and equipment and to conduct reliable ergonomic assessments. Preventative treatments such as physiotherapy, massage and health and fitness classes have also been more difficult for firms to supply and for employees to access. The next wellbeing challenge for firms is how they manage the return to work. Prior health and wellbeing programs are a valuable feature of office life that will attract people back to work and many firms will already be considering how to supplement this program to make their employees even happier in the office. But there is an important health and safety issue that is new and that is the threat of COVID transmission in office environments. Firms will have already prepared for some of the mandatory protocols that have been in place during lulls in lockdown such as enforcing mask check-ins, cleaning and distancing but some may need to adapt to and expended and continuing set of requirements as their employees return. Firms also need to carefully consider their approach to vaccination and the pros and cons or mandatory vaccination. Law firms have a duty of care and responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Clearly unvaccinated workers present a greater risk of catching and or transmitting COVID which is still a dangerous and potentially fatal disease. Many employees will have a strong preference that the people they work closely with are vaccinated to reduce the risk of COVID transmission. Their feelings of safety will have an impact on how successful return to the office is.Other employees with strong personal views or fears about vaccination will be against a mandatory approach which may result in some resignations. Law firms will need to weigh the pros and cons and the regulatory and ethical considerations of a mandatory approach such as:Business risk and continuity issues Shutdown costs (financial and reputationalOHS responsibilities Safety and vaccination requirements of customersCohesion of teams Ethical rights and obligations That responses are measured and proportionate 44'