After I joined Stowe Household Regulation in the summertime of 2019, I used to be struck by the fervour for shoppers and the pleasant and supportive approach wherein colleagues interacted with each other and welcomed me to the agency. This ‘Stowe approach’ was one thing that just about everybody I met throughout my induction commented on.

Having a personable nature inside a legislation agency is extraordinarily necessary. Once we articulated our agency values final autumn, we settled on ‘We now have spirit’ – designed to seize that intangible essence of the folks within the agency.

When the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March this yr, we, like most different corporations of our measurement (170 colleagues, unfold throughout England and Wales), had been unprepared. The closure of all our (then 25) places of work and the wholesale shift to working from house was not a state of affairs we had deliberate for, and the sudden want to regulate was difficult.

This was the place our staff spirit got here to the fore. Everybody, from our client-facing groups via to our assist colleagues, put their shoulders to the wheel to make sure that colleagues had been supported, and consumer service was uninterrupted, as we managed the transition.

We now have been working just about completely from house since then. Whereas this has actually examined our agility and resilience, we now have managed to take care of good ranges of productiveness, consumer service supply, engagement and well-being amongst colleagues.

The calls for of working via the pandemic has inspired us to put extra emphasis than ever on clear, common and constant communication. We led with empathy and centered on pragmatic options to particular challenges and points. We now have additionally benefited enormously from the generosity of colleagues in offering actionable suggestions, in a variety of the way, to which we now have strived to successfully reply.

One thing that has actually resonated is the chance for colleagues to acknowledge the contribution of others; whether or not through a handwritten postcard, a present, or a shout-out on our networking software, Jostle – expressions of appreciation have been important.

Shortly earlier than lockdown, we accomplished and introduced a brand new formidable and difficult 3-year technique for the agency: Stowe 2.0. We need to treble the numbers of shoppers we serve, while additionally enhancing each the expertise of colleagues and the way we ship our providers to shoppers throughout the UK.

Initially, within the spring, like many, we took inventory of the probably affect of the pandemic on our operations and, ‘battened down the hatches’ for a couple of months. Nonetheless, by summertime, we had been able to re-activate our Stowe 2.Zero plan and take steps to implement it. Particularly, we now have opened 9 new places of work, reflecting our dedication to proceed to assist our shoppers of their native communities.

Solidarity has been key to sustaining good ranges of efficiency in order that we will concentrate on rising the agency through recruitment whereas supporting our client-facing operations.

We’re notably proud to have began our first management improvement program and launched our first end-to-end technology-enabled workflow to assist how colleagues ship distinctive recommendation to shoppers.

It has been noticed usually throughout the previous six months that the pandemic has dramatically accelerated shifts that had been already underway when it comes to how we, as professionals, work and ship providers to shoppers. Like others, we at the moment are wrestling with how our technique would possibly want to vary or evolve to mirror these developments.

We’re focussing on two areas specifically: firstly, on how our workplace community is evolving to fulfill the longer term wants of shoppers and colleagues. And secondly, how we are going to construct on the prevailing know-how infrastructure that has enabled us to function throughout the previous yr, once more with the longer term wants (and needs) of shoppers and colleagues in thoughts.

We expect that our future options in these areas (and others) might want to prioritise flexibility and selection when it comes to how each colleagues and shoppers work together with us and entry providers.

Whereas this can be simpler mentioned than completed, it’s the place our focus lies as we transfer ahead in 2021. With over 75% of our staff wanting to mix house and office-based working put up Covid-19, a hybrid mannequin providing flexibility and selection for our colleagues is on the coronary heart of how we are going to function as a agency.

One other vital occasion that touched many legislation corporations throughout the summer season was the explosion of consciousness in regards to the ongoing affect of racism and discrimination in our group triggered by the killing of George Floyd.

This was a tough second for a lot of corporations, and we had been compelled to confront the persevering with affect on our colleagues and the adequacy of our response, in varied methods.

This heightened our consciousness and inspired open, constructive dialogues. It additionally highlighted that lifting variety inside our agency was a precedence that might now not be deferred.

2020 has been a yr like no different. I believe for various causes 2021 might be an equally dynamic yr inside our career.

 

Ken Fowlie is Chairman of Stowe Household Regulation