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Positive Steps with Philip Gray, Partner at Freeths

1. Having left a firm after 20 years and joining Freeths during lockdown, you might think that this could pose a unique set of problems. Completely the opposite as whilst I have only very recently “physically” met my new colleagues after 3 months, the firm’s switch to online induction and the incredibly positive and warm welcome from all my new colleagues via Zoom; Teams; online drinks and quizzes, I have felt far more integrated within my new home than I ever thought was possible back at the end of March. It shows that the firm’s emphasis on its people rings true at times like these with my diary rapidly packed within days of joining by colleagues scheduling video calls to introduce themselves and offer support.

2. I have loved the switch to the online format of webinars that we can swiftly put out to keep our clients and contacts up to date with the ever changing state of the legal landscape during these times as well as giving our view on what we are seeing in the market. There is definitely a place for physical seminars but the beauty of the online format working in tandem is that you can quickly organise and push out relevant content. Due to the flexibility of this format, attendees can fit the sessions in around their day far more easily as there is no travel time and they can be recorded to watch when they are free. We’ve also managed to provide several sessions of the same webinar tailored for different business/sectors rather than a ‘one-webinar-fits-all’ which hugely increases their relevance.

3. Listening to clients’ experiences during this pandemic, the common thread has been how they are looking at their previous business model(s) to see if there are ways they can improve; adapt; and react to these ever changing and unique set of circumstances. I can remember my parent’s retail business having to adapt their model in the early 90s in order to tackle the challenges presented by the recession. The decisions they made then to adapt and evolve with the times reaped their rewards ten-fold over the ensuing decade or so. I can see many business going through precisely the same thought process now and it is exciting to watch and be a part of to help them grow and manoeuvre for the future.

4. Whilst early headlines during the pandemic were focusing on the future of home-working, I am still of the opinion that this is missing the point. I can certainly see flexible working being a natural evolution of this crisis but that was largely happening before Covid-19. We as human beings are still social animals and need that physical interaction for coaching; socialising; innovating; and most importantly for office dwellers perhaps, Air-Con in the summer ! Also the bandwidth during a video-call not being taken up by a rogue child watching Netflix whilst on a video conference with friends or Tik Tok when they are supposed to be doing school work. Depending on your circumstances, the ability to work flexibly could be the answer for many in terms of mindfulness and work/life balance.

5. I know I have mentioned communication already but with the massive spike in virtual meetings over Zoom and Teams etc, this medium of interaction will be so useful for us in the future when a physical meeting isn’t appropriate or logistically feasible. Previously, I have been guilty of putting off physical meetings while we try and find a convenient mutual date in the diary. There would have historically been so many times when a video meeting would have sufficed in the circumstances. It will be about getting the right blend in future as when operating in a world where trust and relationship is so important, the physical meeting can be so crucial but, ultimately, the key is still communicating regularly.

www.freeths.co.uk