Coronavirus Lockdown: Practical Tips for Professional Services Firms
As we approach a full year of living through a pandemic, the challenges of remote working to cash flow pressures remain for many businesses. Although we have learnt a lot about the way we work over the last year, there are still struggles for the professional services firms as they navigate staying afloat in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Giles Dunning, Partner and Head of Corporate for leading South West law firm Stephens Scown LLP, outlines some ideas to help your firm through the next few weeks and months.
Establish new ways of working
For many firms, agile and remote working will never have been tested on such a big scale. The technical side needs to be addressed, but you must not forget about the personal side too. You will find the routines that work best for your firm’s culture and people, but staying in touch regularly – either by telephone or video call – will be really important.
This is a challenging time for everyone, so bear in mind that your people will have their own worries and anxieties too. Some may be living alone and could be feeling very isolated. Others may have young children at home and will be worrying about trying to work while supporting their children with schooling. Many will be worried about the health of older or vulnerable relatives and friends.
Be sensitive to the rollercoaster of emotions your people will be feeling.
Pool your expertise
Some of your teams will be incredibly busy just now, while others may be quieter. Pooling expertise across teams will bring benefits.
Knowledge sharing has never been more important. Keep in touch with colleagues across your business and share your expertise and do the same with other professionals in your network.
Find new ways to measure performance
This particularly applies to staff without clear KPIs. Targets, timescales and feedback lines need to be agreed in advance and reviewed regularly. This should lead to a new level of trust among staff.
Cash flow is going to be a concern for many businesses just now. Keep communicating with your clients and if there are likely to be problems, work with them to suggest solutions. This may include issuing smaller, regular bills rather than one large bill at the end of a piece of work.
Use your network
Your diary, which was once full of breakfast meetings, networking lunches and seminars is likely to look very different just now. Even though you are working remotely, make sure you continue to keep in touch with your network. Many events are now taking place online, so try to tap into those and take time out to phone key contacts in your network.
Keep in touch with clients
If you are going to do one thing today, pick up the phone to a client you’ve not spoken to for a while and find out how they are. This is not about trying to win new work; it is about showing genuine concern for them and their business.
If you win a new instruction in the short term that is a bonus but now is the time to think long-term and be supportive and understanding when your clients could well be going through one of the most challenging times in their personal and professional lives.
Taking the time to understand your clients and adapt to their needs will be time well spent.
Keep standards high
Although things may feel very different, the professions are still subject to the same regulation as before, so make sure you keep standards high and stick to the regulations that apply to your practice.
It is also important to keep standards high in terms of the quality of service you offer. Do not cut corners or sacrifice client service.
Don’t forget about key legal issues
Although our focus has naturally moved onto our new ways of working due to coronavirus, there are several key legal issues that we must not forget about. These include employment law changes and intellectual property issues caused by remote working as well as corporate law considerations on how a board can function remotely. You can find out more in this guide.
Giles Dunning is a partner and head of corporate for Stephens Scown LLP. To contact Giles please call 01392 210700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk