In my last article I wrote about The Stockdale Paradox, a mindset based on the experiences of the late US Navy aviator James Stockdale and his ability to cope with the hellish conditions of a POW camp.
For those who haven’t read it, The Stockdale Paradox is a coping strategy for a crisis, which effectively involves:
1. An unshakable faith that the crisis will end.
2. An acceptance of the brutal reality of the crisis.
Rather than blind faith, which, like optimism, can send some people mad, The Stockdale Paradox can be best actioned by planning for the things you will do once the crisis is over: What is the first thing you will do when you’re released from house arrest? Who will you visit? How will you treat them? What will you say?
The same philosophy applies to business. If you are fortunate enough to still have a viable business after this crisis, what changes will you make to it? Where will you start?
Accepting the reality of the COVID-19 crisis, I’m using my time at home to prepare for the recovery phase. This mindset started quite organically when we were forced as a business to work from home. Initially, this brought up a few fears for me as a business owner. Namely, how would we cope without all being under one roof? Would any work get done?
But it has worked out surprisingly well, despite a few teething problems, and my fears were unfounded. What we’ve discovered is that productivity has remained consistent or even improved since isolation began. This naturally caused me to consider how we’ve been operating our business for the past thirty years.
My company, Acuity Funding, is based in Pennant Hills, in Sydney’s North. We have an office and a small conference room for client meetings. I’d say 90 per cent of our office space is for staff and 10 per cent is reserved for clients. That got me thinking. Surely 90 per cent of my office space should be dedicated to clients, who are the most important part of our business?
When the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and we are all able to return to ‘normal life’, one of the first things I’m going to do is reduce our office size and increase our boardroom size. It makes much more sense for us to be spending time, money and office space on clients. Particularly when we’ve proven in the last few weeks that we can all work efficiently from home. If my staff find them enjoy working from home a few days a week, then that will become the new normal. Who ever said that travelling to an office five days a week was critical to a company’s success?
What I’m planning for my business is not a return to ‘normal’ at all, but rather a refreshed approach to work. It won’t be ‘business as usual’ at Acuity Funding after COVID-19. It will be a business reframed for our loyal customers by the unusual circumstances we are currently experiencing.