For years, a debate has raged within some firms on whether to allow remote work or insist that everyone be present in the office. Younger workers have been pushing for flexibility, and some older partners have been resisting it. How can we make it work? Who gets the privilege of working from home? How will we know they are working when they are not here? How do we manage the staff?
Well, my friends, the genie is out of the bottle. COVID-19 has quickly pushed everyone into the deep end of the pool, and those who planned for it just continued on, while those who were still debating remote work may be doing their best to figure it out on the fly.
Even as we all find ways to adapt to changing the way we work and interact with one another, a growing chorus of thought leaders from all disciplines is suggesting we will not be going back to “business as usual.” Unlike a passing storm when everyone seeks shelter until the skies clear, this time, when we come out of our bunkers, the landscape will have changed. New ways of doing business will emerge. New business models, pricing models, service models and delivery models will forever alter the way you will conduct business going forward. Client interactions, staff interactions and the focus on recovery by truly listening and helping those in need are all changing, and hopefully for the better.
I’m an optimist by nature. I believe most firms will adapt and change and be better once they are fully operational again. I believe that the shift to more advisory services, which has been growing slowly every year (for decades I may add!) will kick into high gear as many firms step in and help their clients recover from an economic downturn that no one predicted would come so quickly.
Consider three immediate changes emerging from the current environment:
- Conversations are already different, both in tone as well as in the technology used to conduct them.
- Social media, which for years psychologists have indicated has contributed to increased feelings of isolation, suddenly becomes a tool to truly help us be social again.
- The focus on “we” instead of on “me” is a welcome change and something that will serve us all well in the future.
No doubt there will be difficult times ahead as we crawl out of this natural disaster. To the many who adapt and embrace the radical changes that lie ahead, we stand ready to bring you stories of success, adaptation and evolution that are sure to emerge. To the few who hope that we return to the status quo, we wish you luck in putting the genie back into the bottle.