Planning for Re-Entry – What Will Business Look Like When We Get Back Our Offices?

As I am beginning my fourth week managing a firm and client projects from an upstairs office in my home, I am beginning to get a bit anxious to get back to the office and find that sense of normalcy again. People communicating face to face; real-time shared excitement when we win a new client; lunches – at a restaurant; the opportunity to have chance communications by simply walking the hallway. But – when we return will all of this really be the same?

I expect many business owners and managers are learning some interesting lessons these days about how they conduct their businesses and how business just gets done, even in the face of a world pandemic. New technologies – or technologies that suddenly seem new – are helping us achieve a level of necessary communications as we all get used to video conferencing and chat rooms to foster communications. As we push the boundaries of technology, we are also faced with added threats of evolving security concerns!

We’ve experienced stressful times, recessions, embargos, gas price escalations, and food shortages. We have experienced terrorist attacks that have shaken us deeply during our lifetime. All of these things have made us uncomfortable, scared us even, and yet, this time it is different.  The sheer magnitude of the ‘invisible enemy’ has had the people of states and nations retreat to the sanctity of their homes like never before – part by choice, and part by executive order.

What is the same, however, is our ability to adapt to our circumstances and forge ahead; to be better than before. Years ago, during the recessionary times back in 2008, I wrote some articles and made some presentations using the theme of “the perfect storm”. Comparing those discussions to now, there are a number of things business owners and managers can and should do to get ready for the new normal.

Eliminate unnecessary costs – lean it out

In a very short time, we have figured out which things are essential – and those that are not.  There is nothing like a good crisis to help you become acutely aware of the areas in your business where you have waste.  Congratulations on quickly making decisions to cut expenses that weren’t vital to your organization during these times. Caution though – they may return if you don’t focus on a new cost structure; and rest assured, keep looking as you may find creative ways to spend less.

Change your business model – delivery of services

Manufacturing companies need to get their employees back to work to run the machines and make products but, to my point above, perhaps they will be operating a bit leaner in the new normal. Service businesses, on the other hand, have learned all too quickly how to conduct business using the WFH (work from home) model. Laptops, video conferencing, etc. have become a norm – not yet replacing the need for more complex interactions with our fellow human beings as I mentioned above. My guess is, though, if we keep this current WFH experience and ability in our minds, we will all realize we do not need the same amount of office space we currently lease when our next renewal comes around. We will be making shifts to smaller offices, more teaming space and, perhaps, transfer more of our investment into the latest technologies.

Look for new businesses models – opportunities to expand

The unfortunate thing about a crisis is that there will be a number of companies that will not be able to survive and thrive due to the shortages of capital or other negative effects their business suffers in the short-term.  Those that are forward-thinking though may find this to be the perfect time to BUY.  There will be an unfortunately large number of depressed businesses, real estate and other operating assets that will be thirsty for capital and the owners of which will be looking for financial and strategic support partners to support their business growth strategies.

Work with your advisors – we are here to help

The great thing about being business advisors is that we get the opportunity to see lots of individual situations that provide us knowledge about the common themes affecting the underlying business principles.  At Haskell & White, we bring that Value of Experience to every client situation. We are continually monitoring and improving our processes, so what we apply for one client, can often be applied to other clients as best practices are created.

What we know now is life and business have changed, and we no longer have a choice to keep doing things the same way we have always done. We are committed to helping you move your business forward during this time of tremendous uncertainty. If we can be of service to answer any questions or provide you advice, please reach out to me or one of our partners.