Strategic Planning in Uncharted Territory

Considerations for Creating your Organizations “New Normal”

As we look forward to the stabilization of the COVID-19 pandemic, every firm is likely evaluating the future of their company. This new reality is not optional and it will require many challenging decisions from the top leaders of every organization.

Every cloud has a silver lining however, and as difficult as the impact of this time in our global history will be, companies should use this downtime to strategize how their organization will thrive in the days, weeks and years ahead.  Making the choice to look at the shutdown as a pause for strategic planning rather than a stop, will play a large role in how your firm will emerge when this time is over.

One thing is clear to us – there will be a new normal and our physical environments will forever be affected.  To that end, we have some thoughts below on how firms might want to frame their real estate decisions moving forward. 

The impact of new health and safety concerns will undoubtedly change business practices in dramatic fashion.  Social distancing, office density, air quality, employee fears, employer liability and a host of other issues will create new mandates on the physical environment of most firms.  New rules due to government bureaucracy, personal injury and employment attorneys and insurers will change the way we can work in the future.

Technological adaptations and advances will make work from home opportunities a viable consideration.  Can your firm remain competitive on a strictly digital footprint? Or is that platform simply a new tool to add to the toolbox?  Is now the appropriate time to consider outsourcing functions or virtual employees? All of these questions are bottom-line considerations that are more impactful today than ever before.

Facilities and labor are two of the largest budget items in all organizations. The post-pandemic version of your firm will be different and must be strategically planned. When will your organization return to operation? At what levels? And over what time period? What facility commitments do you have and are there options to restructure them? Is your current facility different from the facility you will need in the future? Will your current landlord be part of that effort or an impediment?

The Landlord-Tenant relationship will undoubtedly be put to the test in the coming months.  Each party has a huge stake in the success of each other. Firms that do not make it through this crisis will be a tremendous disruption to a Landlords’ cash flow and the fragility of the tenants that do remain will be a major concern to the underwriters of those investments.  This is a time where communication and partnership are paramount. You will need to cooperate with each other to come out of this as strongly as possible and the more thorough your strategy, the more the parties involved will benefit..

Difficult decisions have been and will continue to be made regarding staffing. This crisis will create a natural attrition – certain employees will simply not come back, while others will not be invited back.  Most firms in the country will take a hard look at remote and virtual employment, as well as outsourcing current in house functions.  Is now the time to actively recruit new business talent? Will this reduce or expand your space needs when considering the impacts of new regulation that could be imposed to align with social distancing guidelines?

Unfortunately, in any crisis event there will be collateral damage due to the numerous moving parts of all businesses and outside variables that impact the decisions you will be making.  Your trusted advisors are critical during this time.  Senior management, human resources, legal, accountants, real estate advisors, insurance agents and bankers will all have unique perspectives of the pitfalls to avoid, as well as potential opportunities presented by this crisis.  All hands are required on deck and all input should be assessed carefully to ensure your post-COVID firm emerges as strong as possible and is focused on driving your enterprise value toward the future.

I feel strongly that when this crisis is over the engine of the American economy will come roaring back and be stronger than ever. Leaner, but stronger.