Effects of COVID-19 on Professional Services

To varying degrees, the pandemic has created challenges for all businesses, including ours. Whether they’re temporary or permanent, these issues can be overcome if organizations and managers stay progressive and adaptable.

Thanks to the virus, people have been required to work at home, creating a number of concerns and difficulties in a few areas of business. These include:

  • Efficiency
  • Costs
  • Prospective Clients
  • Recruiting and training employees
  • Team Building

Maintaining Efficiency

When people work remotely, organizations lose at least some of their efficiency. This is probably the biggest concern of all. Prior to COVID, most firms had everyone functioning under one roof, working together; all on the same schedule. Projects would swiftly flow through to different people and departments and there was always a problem-solver just down the hall, available for a quick pop-in to discuss and collaborate.

Now this has been disrupted, replaced by online communication products like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. These applications have been invaluable but simply cannot deliver pre-COVID levels of efficiency. Working from home, employees obviously cannot team up and connect in the same manner. They also grapple with distractions: family interruptions, personal appointments and other interference, throwing schedules out of balance. People still put in their 8 hours but they work on a more staggered basis. So, getting people onto the same page or into an online meeting can now be a timing issue as well, with potential for delays.

With this new world order, organizations are still trying to establish new processes that will be most efficient for them.

Costs

Working remotely may require additional hardware, software and upgraded home internet service. There may also be extra costs for sanitizing services and supplies. For most professional services firms, these expenses are unlikely to be a dramatic concern.

Prospective Clients

When welcoming prospective new clients, online interactions are less than ideal. There’s simply no replacement for sitting across from the prospect; describing what you can do for them; introducing them to your key people; and trying to impress them with the strength of your bench. Fortunately, it’s not really an issue for existing clients who already know and trust you. They’re far more willing to accommodate online communication.

Recruiting and Training

It’s harder to recruit and hire new people via Zoom. It’s just a different interaction. There’s no tour of the office or meeting the staff. It’s also tricky to get new employees up to speed. They’re learning on the job and need to get a feel for the way the business operates. A lot of that usually happens through osmosis but that becomes a longer process when the new hire is home alone talking to their computer monitor.

Team Building

Team building exercises help foster a positive, productive work environment. In the past, our office has enjoyed pot luck Fridays, a weekly beer tasting or sometimes tickets to a hockey game. It’s beyond obvious that doing a solo beer tasting at home while talking into a webcam is not the same level of team building.

It’s a complete reshuffling of the deck and there is no “one size fits all” solution. If you’ve relied on the size of your company for success, that isn’t enough anymore. In a COVID world, success is about being nimble, willing to adapt and redesign. Size doesn’t matter anymore…if it ever did. The winners will be the quick decision-makers; the ones who most embrace change.

We get into much more detail on this specific topic in Episode 6 of The Vaive and Associates Tax Podcast, hosted by Rolland Vaive.  We hope you’ll listen in.

Vaive and Associates

441 MacLaren Street, Suite 200A
Ottawa, ON K2P 2H3

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