Emotional connection with our clients and colleagues is needed now more than ever

We are in unprecedented times. What does the coronavirus lock down and social distancing mean for professional services firms, both now and in the long-term? Robert Camp, Stephens Scown’s Director of Strategic Innovation explains why he feels that creating a genuine emotional connection with colleagues and clients is more important than ever.

“None of us have experienced anything like this before. Our firms have been forced into agile and remote working and we are now communicating with colleagues and clients through Zoom calls and Skype rather than face to face. Some mid-tier firms will have found the transition fairly easy, and there are exemplars who are leading the way. For others it has been a challenge,” says Robert Camp.

The last few weeks have been a period of crisis management for professional services firms as they sought to comply with the Government’s guidelines to ensure as many people as possible work from home.

“We don’t know how long this will last for, so a pressing question is how to make this period work well for your firm,” says Robert.

“The key is to focus on creating an emotional connection, both internally with your people and externally with your clients. Some employees will relish this change and will adapt quickly to new ways of working. Others will find it harder. For some loosing control of their diary will be a big issue. As lawyers we are used to managing our time, but now we are finding requests for Zoom meetings and conference calls coming in left, right and centre. We need to understand the challenges and share tips and advice among colleagues in a more informal way than we’ve done before,” adds Robert.

“Externally it is about the language we use and the way we communicate. All too often law firms use cold language and are overly technical. At the moment we are all afraid – we have worries about vulnerable family and friends, we are not able to visit older relatives, we are concerned about our businesses. When we speak to clients, we are sure to ask them how they are and find out how they are feeling. We need to find ways of showing that kind of empathy with our other communication just now too. Professional services firms could learn a lot from businesses in creative sectors where they are sharing short videos, filmed from home, which are very human and incredibly engaging,” adds Robert.

Looking ahead, what does the future hold for professional services firms after everything is ‘back to normal’?

“I think it is wrong to assume that things will go back to the way they were after social distancing measures are relaxed,” says Robert. “Some firms will try to go back to exactly how they were, but the firms that embrace the benefits that remote and agile working can bring to their business will reap the rewards.

“Our relationship with clients will change too. We are being flexible now, meeting with clients virtually over video calls at times to suit them, rather than asking them to come into our office for a sit-down meeting. Continuing to be flexible and offer that kind of service in the long term will be welcomed by clients.”

Robert Camp is director of strategic innovation at Stephens Scown. To contact Robert, please call 01392 210700, email or visit

Robert Camp

Robert Camp

Stephens Scown
Robert is a Strategic Innovation Director at Stephens Scown and is based in Exeter. Robert’s vision for the firm is simple – to provide excellent client service and to develop and play to everyone’s strengths – and he has looked beyond the legal sector in a bid to set the firm apart from their competitors. He qualified in November 1986 and attended Harvard Law School’s Leadership in Law course and enjoys leading and being responsible for setting and delivering innovation for the firm. Having worked in London, Hong Kong and Sydney, Robert has extensive national experience in the mining and minerals sector. Robert is a director and trustee of the Christian overseas and development charity Tearfund, a Board director of the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink, an elected member of the CBI Regional Council for the South West, an advisory Board member of Burcher Jennings and a director of the South West Tourism Alliance.