Welcome to our practical checklist to help you prepare your business for what is coming next as we adapt to the implications on our lives, both professionally and personally, due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting crisis.
Use the links below to navigate around the guide which has been split into the following sections:
- Introduction & 5 phases of recovery
- Operations & technology
- Finance & resourcing
- Marketing & communications
Introduction – 5 phases of recovery from COVID-19
The father and son combination of Richard and Daniel Susskind – both renown authors, speakers and independent advisers to professional firms and governments – have outlined a 5-stage model for the progression of the impact of the crisis on firms.
The following was written by and published by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind on LinkedIn on 14 April 2020. You can see the original post here.
Most professional firms are likely to progress through five stages in recovering from the Covid-19 crisis. The time scales are unclear, of course, but the direction of travel can be mapped out tentatively.
Stage 1 – Mobilisation
The first, that of mobilisation, involves the rapid move from office to remote working. Few were fully prepared for this – in terms of their operations, technology, and culture. For many, the focus here is on near-term survival. During this phase, the finest firms are caring for their people, and helping their clients as well as themselves. Long-term relationships and reputations will be won and lost during mobilisation.
Stage 2 – Lockdown
In the second phase, the great majority of professionals will be in lock-down, essentially working from home, physically disconnected as never before but using many available technologies that enable good and sometimes excellent online communication and collaboration. As firms re-orientate themselves as best they can in the time available, much will be lost. But at the same time, new efficiencies will be gained, and new operating practices established. In many markets, demand will fall significantly. The wise firms will be those who most creatively use the increase in the non-chargeable time of their fee earners. There will be great opportunities here for online training, meeting the overdue challenge of helping professionals re-tool and prepare for work in the 2020s. Firms will also need to provide online support for staff who suffer mental health difficulties arising from solitude, disconnection, and overcrowding. Some firms, even those who claim their prime concern is the health of their people, will no doubt dismiss many members of staff; in this phase, profound questions about the values and purpose of individual firms can and must be asked.
Stage 3 – Emergence
The third phase is hardest to predict – when restrictions on movement are relaxed and many people have recovered and emerge back into offices and ordinary life. On one view, there will be a relatively swift move from lock-down to emergence (if the ‘mitigation’ strategy is adopted by policymakers). On another view, Covid-19 will then start to spread again, leading to a reversion to lock-down (if the ‘suppression’ strategy is adopted by policymakers). In the latter event, we may loop between lock-down and emergence several times in the coming months. In any event, during the emergence phase, there may be a novel schism in society – between those who have recovered and are at large and those whose lives are still heavily limited. This could mean, for a while at least, that two markets will need served (clients who have emerged and those who have not) and a divided workforce too. Again, challenging operational and cultural issues will arise.
Stage 4 – Surge
When the great majority of people have fully emerged, there will likely be a surge in economic activity and in market confidence. This will be the fourth phase. Some lost ground will be regained, with deals and projects being conducted in compressed time frames. During this surge, the financial markets will begin their journey towards their pre-Covid-19 levels, industry and business will regenerate and flourish, and there will be great demand for professional services. Many unemployed professionals will be re-engaged. Those who looked after their clients in the early phases will now find that loyalty rewarded.
Stage 5 – Equilibrium
In due course, after the initial surge, a new equilibrium will be established. But in this fifth phase, there will not be a reversion to professional life of late 2019. Many of the technologies and techniques that have been forged in the heat of mobilization and lock-down will be regarded as preferable to the traditional ways. Clients will have seen the great inefficiencies of conventional working practices and insist that the digital alternatives are maintained. As many have predicted but in a far shorter period, great swathes of professional work will be automated and transformed by technology.
We are still in lockdown but are about to move to the emergence stage, when lockdown restrictions are relaxed, and we emerge back into offices and ordinary lives.
Leading firms should have strategies and plans for each of the five phases.
We would like to provide thanks to all the UK200Group experts who contributed to this document, specifically:
- Armstrong Watson – Mike Kienlen, Heather Bamforth and Stuart Davison
- Whittingham Riddell – Helen Spencer
- UK200Group HR Forum
- TBL – Paul Stafford
- The Martlet Partnership – David Macdonald
- Lester Aldridge – Michael Veal
- Gary Horswell – Ntegrity
This document was endorsed by the UK200Group Managing and Contact Partner’s Forum.
Posted by Lambert Chapman
The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.