In our latest guest blog on the impact of Covid 19 in Kent and Medway, Salim Somjee, Partner at Cripps Pemberton Greenish, describes how businesses have quickly adapted to the ‘new normal’.
May marked the start of our firm’s new financial year, causing me to reflect on the last 12 months. With two Brexit cliff edges, a general election, Brexit itself and a global pandemic, the merger and acquisitions (M&A) market, and the wider economy, has experienced a series of shockwaves. Every time economic activity seemed to be picking up and we were coming up for air, another tidal wave hit us. While we are still working out how to overcome the COVID pandemic and, with the prospect of agreeing a Brexit deal within the next six months, it has been difficult to be optimistic about the future.
Politicians are tasked with Brexit and COVID issues which we, as citizens, have no control over. However, there are things we have been trying to do; (1) mitigate against risk and uncertainty and (2) look for opportunities and positives.
In respect of the latter, there are undoubtedly some positives coming out of the last year.
Collaboration – People have come together (figuratively rather than physically) and been more collaborative when faced with difficulties. Initially, things were harder, but people were understanding. With many of us in the same boat – working from home with schools closed – we accepted a more informal way of working which has brought a human dimension to professional relationships, and a greater level of appreciation and understanding. Hopefully this sense of collaboration will continue.
Cultural shifts – This forced situation has blown some of the dinosaurs out of the water who said that working from home was more like “shirking from home”. As a firm, we already encouraged homeworking and therefore adapted to this situation well, but speaking to people in organisations where these “traditional” attitudes still existed, it seems that it has helped people to accept that flexible and agile working does not necessarily mean reduced productivity.
Technology – I feel a little “video-conferenced out” at the moment, but post-pandemic the use of Teams/Zoom will be commonplace. Decisions over which tech to use, which historically took months of deliberation and procrastination are now made quickly. For example, during the second week of lockdown, my team completed 6 transactions, which presented numerous logistical difficulties. Fortunately, the firm had anticipated this and had licences for e-signing, which has made completions much easier and will continue to when we return to the office. This, to me, has been one of the real positives that has come out of this pandemic, particularly as transactions I work on can have in excess of 100 documents that need signing.
I would rather we had not gone through what we have all gone through over the last 12 months, but now that we have, there are positives that can be taken. People are more willing to take risks and adopt a ‘fail fast, learn fast’ mindset, which can only be a good thing when the world is changing so quickly and whatever gets thrown at us next, I am sure we will continue to be resilient and adapt.
Cripps Pemberton Greenish