Changing with the Times
The COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone a curveball this past spring, but since then, area professionals have had plenty of time to reflect on how it will affect their practices in the coming months. Legal and financial execs share some of the key adjustments their offices have made to stay productive.
Kirk Stange, founding partner
Stange Law Firm
Like a lot of companies, we have implemented videoconferencing software for internal meetings and conversations with clients. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected while maintaining social distance. We bought new, premium video software with bank-level encryption, and it actually has been a cost saver because we aren’t putting as many miles on cars and paying for parking and gas. State and federal courts also have been encouraging the use of videoconferencing for some proceedings.
We had team members working remotely in the past, but it’s much more widespread in our 18 locations now. Law firms were deemed essential, so a few of our staff members still are going in to the offices to handle mail and court documents like motions and pleadings. We can scan mail and send it securely to employees working from home; obviously, confidentiality is a major concern. Working remotely has been a challenge overall, but many employees have said it helps them put distractions aside, and everyone has kept a constructive attitude. In any case, we are continuing to work hard to serve our clients’ legal needs; those did not go away when the pandemic began.
Scott Colbert, executive vice president and chief economist
Commerce Trust Co.
There’s been no disruption of normal services at Commerce Bank and Commerce Trust, but we are doing some things differently to keep serving clients securely in this new environment. About 20% of our staff has been able to stay in the office with distancing measures in place, and the rest have been working from home. We had to make some expenditures in terms of computers and systems, but we were able to do it quickly and effectively.
Other key things we have implemented include a daily team ‘check-in’ videoconference and Monday morning calls between senior managers. In some ways, these meetings have brought about even better communication than we had before. In the past, I probably couldn’t have gotten all 18 of my team members together for lunch at the same time because of busy schedules, but everyone is present for our videoconferences, and they can feel free to talk about whatever is going on. We’re big believers in not having more meetings than we need so staff can focus on clients, and we think these video calls have made us even more organized.
Brett Rufkahr, president
Alpine Private Capital
Anticipating that a situation like COVID-19 might happen, we started transitioning our applications and server to the cloud about five years ago. Our employees can work effectively and securely from any place where there is a computer and Internet.
We expect to go back to the office, but we have a newfound respect for working remotely, and our teams have been just as productive. We may implement a rotating schedule where people work from home a couple of days and at the office a couple of days, and then everyone comes together for meetings on Wednesdays. My hat is off to our staff for staying on top of things and working to keep our client services uninterrupted. When people believe in themselves and their leaders, they have the freedom to be innovative and figure out any situation.