A Peek Inside Our Firm's Culture During COVID-19

by Sean McCarthy

It's no secret COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) is causing a huge deal of uncertainty within companies across the globe. From the glaring financial and supply chain impacts to the less obvious cultural adjustments, there's a lot for business leaders to figure out.

With that in mind, I wanted to share how Gutwein Law is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic from an operations and cultural standpoint in hopes it could help some companies still struggling to find their feet.

Finding the Positives

We have a few hardcore Jocko Willink fans at the firm. If you haven't heard of him, he's a retired U.S. Navy SEAL Officer who shares leadership principles as an author, podcast host and on Twitter. Perhaps his most notable message (and appropriate for the situation we're all in now), is his encouragement to find the "Good" in all difficult situations.

This is a really easy, yet powerful exercise your team can do to help in shifting from a doom and gloom mindset. I'll give you a few examples of what we came up with:

PROBLEM: The coronavirus pandemic has had major health, financial, political, technological, and societal affects across the globe. There have been various shutdowns and slowdowns of businesses, millions of people are out of work, and there’s a large degree of uncertainty about the future.  This pandemic is causing: (1) a slowdown in certain segments of our business and our clients’ business, (2) creating uncertainty in the future impact on our business; and (3) disruption in our people being in the office together.

So What’s GOOD about this?

  • In times of uncertainty, fear, and negativity, it gives us a chance to reiterate that we are a gracious employer that values its people.
  • Being remote gives us a chance to test our hardware and software solutions. In a time where we require and depend on our technology, we get the chance to see what really works and what doesn’t.
  • Difficult times spur creativity. We’ll get a chance to see what we’re capable of as a team.

Some pretty good follow-up items came out of this exercise for us, as well, like this blog post. Go on, try it for yourself.


Being Remote-Ready

Generally, people don't often associate law firms with being on the forefront of innovation, but for us, that couldn't be further from the truth. Over the last few years, we've put a ton of resources and energy into our hardware and software systems -- searching, testing, and tweaking -- until our technology mix was just right. As a result of all this hard work, we didn't have to scramble for our team to have the ability work from home -- it was as simple as having our team members take their laptops home with them. We've continued supporting our clients uninterrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To dive into this a bit more, here are some practices we've had in place to help make this transition as smooth as possible:

  • Laptops vs. Desktop Computers -- As I mentioned, we moved our entire team to laptop computers, so lugging a bulky PC tower home wasn't an issue -- just a laptop and power cord did the trick.
  • Paperless Files -- We've been completely paperless for years now, meaning we can share and access files from anywhere. Making copies and scan paper files isn't a necessity.
  • File Sharing & Time Tracking Software -- To help with the paperless movement, we've invested in shifting all our software programs to cloud-based systems, again, meaning we can work at home or on a beach in Mexico (not that any of us are doing that now).
  • Communication Channels -- Now, our phone systems are simply used as softphones on our computers or are forwarded to our mobile phones. But, we've taken it a step further with video conferencing, meaning we can see fellow team members and clients face-to-face.


Developing a Response Team

As you may have noticed, we've been working hard to stay-up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news and information as it relates to businesses. Specifically, we have two attorneys at Gutwein Law who are dedicated to helping our clients find and navigate the solutions that work best for them.

Do you have someone on your team dedicated to helping your company guide you through the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

If not, we can help. Check out our webpage for the latest information on regulations and relief efforts related to COVID-19. You can also always give us a call at 765.423.7900.


Being Intentional with Cultural Efforts

As a lot of companies are finding out, being out of the office and away from coworkers presents other challenges beyond communication. Company culture can essentially disappear overnight if you're not careful and intentional about keeping it alive and well. That's why, we've taken special steps to make sure we're continuing to strengthen relationships and show our team members we care for them. For instance, we've held weekly virtual happy hours with a specific discussion theme, which have included:

  • Sharing your favorite quote(s) and why
  • What you ordered for lunch (we gave the entire team a stipend for lunch to have something delivered to their house)
  • Discussing any TV shows you've been watching (Tiger King was a common theme)
  • Sharing recipes, playlists, or home improvement tips

In addition to weekly all-firm calls, we've also encouraged instant messaging through our video conferencing software as another less formal mode of communication. It helps to fill the void of those missed casual "water cooler" conversations in the office.

So that's it. A look at how our team is directly addressing some of the barriers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Have anything to add? Feel free to shoot us a message at info@gutweinlaw.com. We're always open to ideas.