The following post is courtesy of Diane Harrison who is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 specializing in alternative assets.
In these last days of 2020, it’s a time to reflect on what’s past and look forward to what’s coming. Though much has been written this year about the global challenges and hardships the pandemic has created throughout the business world, there have also been some glimmers of positivity. During this time of virtual business, here are some reasons to see the pluses of what has happened this unusual year.
SMALL DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN LESS
Small can be big in concept and execution. With virtual work conditions imposed by necessity on many of us, learning to focus on what’s important and necessary can lead to a better understanding of priorities, execution, and planning. The elimination of distraction projects, multiple options, and resources created a refinement atmosphere that sometimes led to a better outcome, delivered with less to create more.
OFFICE SPACE IS A CONCEPT MORE THAN A BUILDING
Infrastructure is a function of access and ease of use, not impressive volume space. Many of us who typically function in an office environment were surprised to find that the trappings of individual offices, communal conference rooms, travel schedules to other locations, and the like can be helpful and useful, but aren’t requirements for getting things done. There are lots of challenges to working virtually, but there are also advantages in paring things back by identifying what physical space is needed to accomplish the objective. Some larger businesses have decided that the expense and upkeep of maintaining so many brick and mortar locations just won’t be necessary going forward, and have embraced the concepts of work from home, flex time, and job sharing in ways they hadn’t prior to 2020.
PARTNERING HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER
Figuring out how to manage work flow, workloads, and personal time needs was a huge issue this year for many employers and employees, particularly with the need to accommodate home schooling for those with school age children. By necessity, job sharing and fixed work hours needed to be reconsidered to manage the challenge. In addition to accommodating personal schedules for employees, some businesses also embraced the advantages of outsourcing functions to specialty businesses in lieu of adding staff or managing functions in-house. Investment funds have long endorsed the practice of running as lean on staff as practical and outsourcing as many non-critical functions as possible. In 2020, this concept was adopted more widely by larger businesses as well, making the practice more mainstream and the options for outsource businesses more attractive to specialty operators.
COLLABORATION IS AN OPPORTUNITY MOVE
Taking the concept of outsourcing one step further, collaborative programs also enjoyed an upswing in 2020. For example, using a separate firm to determine accreditation for qualified investors as a co-branded practice bolsters the marketing effort for investment managers, who need to ensure investors are comfortable with both firms in sharing financial details, and don’t have the manpower to run the background effort themselves. Serving as a sub-manager on a larger investment platform also helps build investment options for investors and allocation ability for a host platform manager, yet provides both manager and sub-manager the opportunity to build and strengthen their own brand identity.
DIGITAL RESOURCES ROSE IN VISIBILITY AND IMPORTANCE
Going digital in as many ways as possible makes navigating the virtual work world smoother for users on both sides of the table. Automating functions that can be monitored and run remotely gives the home office work force better support for a number of functions, and clients who can access a fuller experience on line are able to be less reliant on service support from individuals. Few enjoy the dial and wait on line approach versus being able to search and select responsive functions on line or through an app. The growing business model of creating this independent user experience is here to stay in 2021.
In conclusion, 2020 saw its share of negatives and struggles across the board. As the year comes to an end, these challenges still remain, but adaptations and innovations have done much to lessen their impact on us all. In terms of needing or desiring to continue the practice of virtual work in 2021, the consulting company KPMG observed in its July 2020 employee survey that …”64% of its respondents want the flexibility to work remotely at least part of the time…” With decreased commute time, overhead costs, and increased productivity, employers are likely to endorse the practice.