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An opportunity to CTRL-ALT-DELETE - news article image

An opportunity to CTRL-ALT-DELETE

19 May 2020

5 minute read

Members of DFK UK & Ireland, a leading association of independent accounting firms, have been talking to their clients and contacts in order to understand how businesses are re purposing through the COVID-19 lock-down.

In the eighth in a series of articles, I spoke with Taylor Vinters Managing Partner Ed Turner and Nicola McConville, lead of the Oxford office and Partner in the Growth Team. Ed covered the strategic and operational aspects of the lockdown whilst Nicola concentrated on the innovation market and how her clients are adapting.

Taylor Vinters are an international law firm who support businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in the innovation economy. They operate from the innovation clusters in the UK, Asia and US with offices in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Singapore and New York.

Ed Turner

Although this is a hugely challenging time, Ed is taking the opportunity to look to the future, recognising that the reality is that ‘life will never go back to how it was before’. The pandemic and the Government response have ‘unlocked the status-quo’ - areas which would have previously taken a long time to change, have done so over a very short-period of time. In this era of fluidity, Ed sees an opportunity to consider, both as a community and as individual business-owners, how we choose to ‘put things back together again’.

The lockdown has challenged the identity of ‘place’ and this, coupled with the fact that the transition back to physical interaction will be drawn-out, means that virtual interaction will continue to fill the gap of the physical office. Ed believes that often the virtual meeting is easier, more comprehensive and ultimately has an increased emphasis on the matter at hand. In the ‘new world’ or ‘new normal’ which is beginning to emerge, he believes that the working day will comprise of a blend of home and office-based work, with the time spent in each of these work environments being more focussed on the intended outcomes. For example, in the future when we head into the office for client meetings, we will be more focused - the reason for being there will be clear and defined, whereas in the past being in the office everyday provided distractions and at times caused loss of focus.

Whilst he recognised that some people will want to go back to ‘what is the norm’ and revert to comfortable scenarios, Ed is looking forward to having conversations with the key stakeholders in Taylor Vinters in order to question what really adds value. For example, marketing and business development will be interesting areas to rethink as (particularly in professional services) some activities tend to take place ‘for the sake of it’. Ed is keen to point out that this doesn’t mean that every networking event or meeting must result in a commercial win but, if these activities do not result in a gain from a commercial or personal enjoyment perspective, then the time versus value question needs to kick in.

Ed’s tip for business owners surviving lockdown is:

“Focus on the organisation you want to be when the storm is over and work back from there. Stand back, without prejudice, and think about rebalancing time and the value we derive for our clients and for ourselves, from where we spend it.”

Nicola McConville

As an international legal business focussed on working with innovators and entrepreneurs, many of whom are in the tech space -Nicola’s work, and that of her colleagues, has transitioned relatively easily to the virtual world. The firm’s work has increased since the pandemic, with a number of their clients working on Covid-19 related initiatives, such as potential vaccines, testing-kits and ventilators, amongst others.

They also have existing clients who have been able to contribute or ‘pivot’ the science and technology in their businesses to help with the ‘Covid challenge’. A large proportion of this adaption has been in collaboration with both complementary and competing organisations domestically and internationally. Nicola has seen a fantastic amount of collaboration between the leading-lights in science that make up the Oxford and Cambridge clusters and universities and she never ceases to be ‘amazed and proud about the amazing scientific brains around her’.

Here are some examples of the work their clients are doing:

  • A Cambridge client has collaborated with Dyson on building emergency ventilators
  • Scientists from the Oxford University Engineering Science Department and the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research have developed a rapid testing technology for Covid-19
  • A London client has repurposed 150 freestanding phone charging stations into hand sanitising dispensers which will be used in supermarkets, train stations, shopping Centres and hospitals
  • A Cambridge client has supported the NHS by donating free Magtrace lymphatic tracer vials to UK hospitals to help continue carrying out essential breast cancer treatment during the Covid-19 outbreak

There are a plethora of funding options available to clients who are driving innovation through the pandemic and those who are working on solutions to assist the future growth of the UK. Innovate UK and Horizon 2020 are two such options.

 Nicola’s tip for business owners surviving lockdown is: 

 “It is easy to get overwhelmed by the daily Government briefing and IMF figures. Take the positive in that we all now have a moment of reflection, and that moment of reflection can be an enlightenment, providing us with clear thought as to what we want to remain the same and what we want to change. This time is an excuse to give up bad habits and it would be a wasted opportunity if we do not take this moment of objectivity to learn about ourselves and how we do business.”

An opportunity to CTRL-ALT-DELETE - news article image

Author:

Fran Kidd

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