Market update – Oct 21
Being busy is a privilege, but still not without its challenges.
Many markets are seeing unprecedented demand at the moment. With a global restart happening at basically the same time, most countries growth prospects are hampered by supply chain issues. Whether it’s ships waiting off the coast of the Port of Los Angeles, or semiconductors slowing down car production in Germany, firms are facing many challenges as demand surges. Equally, it was reported over the weekend that law firm juniors are working extremely long hours. In March 2020, we could all only dream of being this busy and we would have welcomed it with open arms. However, a boom can throw up many challenges, as I’ve mentioned, and many of these are people related.
Teams are working harder than ever to deliver successful customer outcomes, managers are trying to plot a way forward against the background of a pandemic and a stop/start economy, whilst implementing new technology, and working practices. You then factor in the 3R’s: Resignation, Retirement and Relocation. It’s a difficult cocktail. Many firms are plugging management gaps with first time managers. This is great, new ideas will come to the fore, new working practices will be developed, but there is also a loss of significant levels of knowledge. No more so than when it comes to the management of workloads, teams, and wellbeing.
Here at Fram, we’re working hard to find balance. We’ve implemented hybrid working, we give our team extra days off between Christmas and New Year, and we’re trialling a 4.5 working week. Team is very important and each change mustn’t weaken our overall output, but the theory is that the more control you give people over their diary, within the constraints of running a successful team, the happier and more productive staff are. We too are also hiring, though, to cope with demand and it’s an exciting time as we deepen the knowledge within our existing practices, whilst rolling out services for new clients.
Team members in every company also have a responsibility to work with management. It isn’t a “them” and “us” and if firms are showing high levels of flexibility, employees need to play their part by also being fair and ensuring that they adhere to the standards set out. I think some firms are concerned that they are starting to see lower levels of productivity at home, of mission creep, of lunchtimes being whenever people decide, not when the business needs people to take them. It is for each firm to find their own feet and to work out the best way forward for them, and I think this is best solved by firms, rather than by politicians. Our advice, based on our insights, is to always try and see the best in the team. As we discovered during the pandemic, the vast majority of any workforce is extremely conscientious. They want to do a good job, they want to work, they want to help. Of course, there will be individuals who push the envelope, but this is best dealt with at an individual level rather than punishing the group – a group that is trying hard.
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I’m writing this at the start of COP26. I’d like to re-highlight that Fram carbon offsets all of our emissions. Our CEO (me) doesn’t take a private jet anywhere or own a superyacht. Conferences like this are great, but responsible firms should be taking steps before they are mandated to do so. We are proud of our commitment to ESG best practice.
I hope you firm is blessed to be busy, that you are able to offer your team flexibility, and that you are reaping the benefits of this.
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