There was an interesting article in ‘Project’ by Professor Eddie Obeng, author of blog imaginefish.com. Over the last four or five months we’ve lived through a lifetime of change but what does it all mean? And what comes next? The article related to digital transformation and ways of working but it made me think. I thought I would share my 5 stages of a pandemic reaction, this is influenced by Professor Obengs writings but relates to my ‘journey’ as Julian Church and Associates.
Stage 1 Office Closed
The transfer to fully working from home. This was a rapid turn around with many years of staff acknowledgements of difficulties in VPN lines etc suddenly being condensed into a week of enabling accessibility. Moving back to where the office foundings had been made , back to my ‘home office‘, which in the sixteen years since last being my main office had been a nursery play room and latterly for the last 10 years my wife’s office. Our workload is dropping as various schemes are put on hold but we have a resolute attitude and whilst having to furlough staff, I take on board the day to day sole role of measuring value, time and process for the benefit of my client community.
Stage 2 Finding My Feet
Aside from wifi speeds which appear to fluctuate as others in the street are also obviously using the local network, the facility to work at home and business continuity is ongoing. I started following webinars and discuss the status of our workload with my contemporaries and collaborators. Business financing is a focus of attention but completing old project work and planning continuance of ‘normal service’ in a reduced capacity is my daily routine. I have found ‘Zoom’ and progressed to offsite meetings to coordinate works. I’m doing lots of CPD. I continue to measure and review value, manage time and implement process in day to day working.
Stage 3 The RealisationWorkload
that we thought would continue is pulled or put on hold and the bare reality in action of the cashflow planning sees volume of workload at much reduced percentages of ‘normal’. The breakdown in the day to day activity has left time to remake connections and discussion of collaboration and support is in every conversation. We are actually in good shape despite the turndown in levels of workload. The government are doing a good job in supporting the staff costs & overhead through the Job Retention Scheme and we can start planning how to reintroduce the staff subject to work levels later into the year in Q3/Q4. The Brand Strategy webinars are providing good introspective focus for the company. I have set in place a review of the last years workload and basis for planning workload for this next 18 months. There are work streams presenting themselves but not for immediate action. Throughout though I am still reviewing costs and value, setting programme times and implementing day to day processes.
Stage 4 Business Strategy
The pandemic has driven change at an amazing rate. Zooming is normal and perhaps 5-10 years worth of innovation in working methods and response has been changed within weeks. I now have started on an 18 month Business Programme of review and driven perspective into when it is predicted that a recovery growth period will begin. For the first time in 19 years I have a full perspective of the company structure and why it works or fails at certain ratios of staffing. I have focus on return & turnover gained in sectors & types of service within our work. I am in control but also aware that I am subject to the realities of the economic situation. People are talking about pivoting and innovation but our key services are good and to be retained, our service areas will require broadening though. I am considering the other areas to which we can generate income through our knowledge base. I am now managing implemented time, process & value for a diverse enriched client community.
Stage 5 Emergence
We now have projects going out to tender, workload that has been developed through the period of pandemic. I am attending site meetings again, where inspection is required whilst continuing to work from the home office. New project work is being secured and I have started to utilise the return of staff members where financially prudent or timescales insist, hopefully in the long term. The business programme is evolving and we are starting to look to how to put across the joined up messages to link our promotion through to next year and beyond, to match the likely emergent reaction from our customers and colleagues. I am again providing reassuring end to end measured managed process and value for all projects to which we currently have live.
Whilst we as a company have gone through the above stages into that final emergent stage, this will be a long stage of recovery and regrowth. I thank the staff for their acceptance of being furloughed, with an understanding that we are seeking to maintain the size of staff to which we entered the pandemic. For some of them, this process will take longer than some of the others but I have every intention and am planning for all their reintroductions .
We are keen to discuss work with our clients and colleagues. I know for some, this will still be too soon, but we are here when you are ready to discuss and will be providing the same reassuring end to end engagement with you, providing process & management of your construction and fit out projects through our Quantity Surveying and Project Management services.
We look forward to working with you all again soon.