Norris Ward McKinnon’s Sam Hood talks about Covid-19 lockdown and the future
What have your main challenges been?
Over the past 18 months or so, our strategy has focused on culture and growth. The lockdown has challenged our growth strategy, given the uncertainty and the inevitable recession. The lockdown has also challenged the culture aspect of our strategy, because prolonged physical separation can be a barrier to individual wellbeing and team cohesion. In saying that, our teams have found new ways to get together, using apps and platforms like Zoom and Teams, and are sharing information they probably wouldn’t have before. We’ve got to know each other better in that regard.
What have your successes been?
I think our main success has been the agility of our people and their ability to adapt to the lockdown and support each other and our clients, often in challenging circumstances. But as with any challenge, much of the success is attributable to the blood, sweat and tears invested before the lockdown. In this respect, our deliberate focus on culture and growth put us into a strong position going into the lockdown. Morale is high, we have avoided redundancies and salary cuts and we are continuing to invest heavily in the well-being of our people. It’s pleasing to see that the lockdown has not dented our confidence or caused us to retrench.
What difference has moving to Level 2 made for you?
In terms of the way we produce our work, not a lot. We are keeping the efficiencies lockdown has delivered, such as paper-light practices, working remotely, attending Court appearances and engaging with each other and with our clients via technology. The main difference is we have a few more people in the office, so good for morale and we can now see our clients for in-person appointments if they wish.
What long-term changes do you see yourself making to the way your business operates?
Much greater flexibility for people to work when and where they want, higher investment in the resources to enable this, less work-related travel.
During the lockdown I tried to speak with every member of NWM about their individual experience. Those conversations showed just how much people missed their work colleagues, and how important those work relationships are to our overall wellbeing and sense of belonging. In many ways, it’s like being part of a family – easy to be complacent in those relationships, and occasional misunderstandings, but when the chips are down, you know who to turn to. Plus you miss those people when they aren’t around!