Informal surveys suggest that around 70% of UK businesses are working with their employees to prepare for the transition to new office working arrangements. I hear a complete spectrum of approaches from ‘We intend to close all of our offices’ to ‘Everybody has to return to the office as soon as permitted’. But when I ask the question ‘What are you doing to understand the impact of new working practices on your clients?’, the vast majority of professionals either shrug their shoulders or go silent. It appears that many organisations have lost focus on the client perspective.
This is an important omission. The potential impact on your clients of the stresses from COVID, lockdown and uncertainty, are the same as for everyone else. The range of new working practices that your clients might adopt is probably no different to that of your employees.
It may be insightful for leadership teams to share individual perspectives on how your business will work with the two end points of the spectrum mentioned above.
‘How do we adapt to work with a client that has no offices?’
‘How do we adapt to work with a client where everyone is office based?’
Leadership teams may also consider whether it is for individual employees to answer these questions, and the level of organisational guidance needed.
One thing that COVID has not affected is the importance of building and maintaining trust in business relationships. The evidence that many organisations are not engaging with their clients on how they will work together in the future, provides opportunities for sharper competitors.
From the perspective of businesses with longer term relationships, the leadership team question may be: ‘If we are not talking about client relationships post pandemic, who is?
This is the first article in a series examining the impact of new working arrangements on clients and customers. If you would like to ensure that you receive further articles in this series, please email email@example.com