From surviving to thriving
The new enemy is fear. Fear to commit, fear to act and fear to invest. Fear to ask for help in case it's seen as a public failure, a humiliation. Fear for staff's health and well-being.
Yesterday I took part in an excellent Oosha panel discussion surrounding the future of legal operations in light of Covid-19. I'll put out links to the recorded broadcast once they are available, but here's my summary of our conversations. These top tips might be useful for you and you may wish to consider them against your current business continuity efforts.
Think of things simply. Short term is the first week, medium term is the first month and long term is 3-months time. That's right, timescales are hugely compressed right now.
Appoint a business continuity team to take over the day-to-day management of the business. Meet daily. It's not the time for different boards, executive committees or convoluted hierarchies or approval systems for investment. Make the team accountable and be nimble. Limit the size of this team to 5 key members maximum.
Make sure the business know this team has accountability for operations. Prioritise the immediate needs in terms of achieving self-isolation, systems access, BYOD (remembering you still need your security perimeter) . Remember if you rush out and buy 400 laptops, even if you get them, then what? How are they going to get built and get distributed? Your IT team are busy trying to keep the lights on... there are other alternatives.
Reach out to your clients and call in help from external suppliers who can rapidly get you to a place of operational capability. Remember, this is about business survival not business continuity! No amount of Disaster Recovery testing would have prepared you for what is happening.
With immediate issues taken care of, determine your strategy and what capacity you have and what you need to scale out. If this is going to require investment, talk to the British Bank to about a Coronavirus business loan. The investment you make now will be enduring and add value long after the pandemic has passed.
Deal with those thorny line of business systems issues, these will be blocking your staff from being productive at home. Work with your suppliers to resolve these issues, it's why you pay that support and maintenance.
Talk to your staff and use OPEN questions. "How are you? Are your family affected? Are you caring for a vulnerable relative?". Avoid talking about utilisation, realisation or recovery rates. Communicate with them clearly to confirm what the Governments expects each and everyone of us to do, to provide clarity about furloughing, sick pay and self-isolating for example.
Communicate your plans and use tools such as Teams, Slack, Hangouts or House Party to their fullest capability and remember to have a back-up system, as these applications could very easily become overloaded as more and more businesses turn to use them.
Start thinking about your new working norm. Marvel at how people have adapted so quickly to working in entirely new ways. Tell them how brilliant they are.
By now the worst of the pandemic will have passed, and there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Think about how you are going to switch back to working "normally" and reflect on the experience you have had. It is likely that the new working norm swill be very different to the operating model you had before Covid-19.
In the meantime, I hope you manage to stay healthy and as productive as you can under the circumstances. If you are struggling with anything at all, get in touch with me. I'm hear to listen. The way that we all work are changing forever.