Being disconnected from colleagues, clients, friends and affiliates not only isolates the person but also limits their breadth of human experience. No man or woman is an island and needs to hear from others even if they cannot be physically together during the COVID-19 crisis. Besides the individual isolation and social distancing, working remotely has its own challenges.
I reached out to some prominent executives and professionals to inquire about their personal and business experiences while in a stay at home situation. Read what they have to say; you might just see yourself or some of the things you have been thinking and living. Some comments have been edited for space.
DO I NEED THIS MUCH SPACE?
George Likourezos, Partner, Carter, DeLuca & Farrell LLP
My assistant and I are both working remotely and have not had a face-to-face meeting with each other for two weeks. Nonetheless, our responsiveness to clients and timely addressing legal matters has not faltered. The pandemic has shown that technology can be used to effectively operate as a virtual law firm, and it is to be seen if law firms will consider having less space when leases are renewed.
Marcy Greenfield, CPA, Audit Partner
As a CPA our business has shifted from hitting 4/15 deadlines to now guiding clients through the CARES Act and what amount of loan they qualify for. Personally, I had to postpone my May wedding in Jamaica but, I am really trying to appreciate the extra time with my family and my dogs. Nobody is happier than the dogs right now!
MORE DEMAND FOR SERVICES
Neil Seiden, Managing Director, Asset Enhancement Solutions, LLC
My company is probably an outlier in that we are ideally positioned to help companies access capital. The crisis has made us even more valuable and in demand because some companies cannot afford to wait until they receive SBA financing.
Eric Altstadter, Partner, EisnerAmper
We have 1700 people, and all are working remotely, including me. We had the infrastructure in place to move to a complete remote workforce. We have suggested our people use the video on their computers more. We think people get comfort in seeing you during these crazy times.
Working from home is not as efficient as I normally am, but I have been productive. Not networking, I miss the interaction with other professionals and contacts. I think that business as we know it will change. There will be a new normal.
MOVED BY HUMAN LOSS
Jeffrey L. Bass, M.A., M.P.A.
Executive Strategies Group LLC
These days I am bowed by the magnitude of human loss: the family business, often a family’s single biggest asset, the concomitant financial hardship imposed on displaced employees, the almost hysterical scramble to grasp at the straws of new financial aid programs and of course, the horrible toll on humanity that is wrought by this scourge, COVID-19.
Founder / President, Moxxie Network LLC
Founder / Executive Director, Moxxie Mentoring Foundation Inc
We have created Zoom webinars and meetings twice a week to keep our ladies connected and engaged.
Financially, it’s too soon to say what the effects will be. We realize the monies raised will be less due to the economic effect of Coronavirus.
TIME TO INNOVATE AND STRATEGIZE
David G. Hunt, MCR, CCIM, SIOR
Hunt Corporate Services, Inc.
We had our first full-employee WebEx meeting yesterday. I emphasized that tough times are the incubators for resourcefulness, grit, and creativity. Stress forces us out of our comfort zones and inspires a different way of looking at the world. During the time that it is difficult to service our clients, let’s look at our infrastructure and new ways to communicate and be more efficient with our systems. Let’s clean-up and organize. And let’s look to see how we can help others who are suffering, and at the same time, keep ourselves and loved ones safe.
NON PROFITS HURTING
Director of Development
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Long Island
After two weeks of working from home, it can still be challenging. Technology is great but there really is no substitute for face to face meetings whether scheduled or impromptu.
Non profits are facing a multitude of challenges. An increase in need for our services with a simultaneous decrease in funds due to canceled events and donors facing personal unstable economic situations. Also, the increase in need to support the medical community at this time, may adversely impact giving to other types of non profits. Some small grassroots ones may not come out the other side of this intact.
REVEALING OUR HUMANITY
Diane Johnston | Vice President
From a personal point of view, I hope and believe for many this period of quiet, stillness and interior life will show the kindness and humanity we all share in the end. I do not wish suffering on any one or any creature and know there are many who are suffering right now. Through our new connectedness I hope to learn (and share) how we can all help one another and our communities.
NO HUGS FOR SON
I believe we are just approaching the quarter way point in this crisis. While the government has allocated a very significant sum of money through the PPP loans, I’m convinced that we’re going to need a second and third round of similar size to help small businesses get through this crisis. So, we’re going to need more; much, much more to get through this crisis.
On a personal note let me share something that happened to me yesterday. My son came over for a visit and so we spent a few minutes visiting outside six feet apart. It was the first time in his life that we’ve been together where I couldn’t give him a hug. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced.
CEO OR MOMMY HAT
Terri Alessi – Miceli
President & CEO HIA-LI
My teenage son loves the fact that I’m around, but I have to keep reminding him that during the day I have my ‘CEO’ hat on, not my ‘mom’ hat. One good thing: it’s forcing him to be more independent around the house, especially the kitchen.
Maintaining that ‘personal touch’ is a challenge in the current environment, but with the help of web-based technology tools, we are finding new ways of staying in communication and supporting our members. It’s the companies that are reengineering through this that will come out stronger and survive.
WORRIED BUT WORKING
JIM MEYER, Partner, Greco Planning
I brought home a number of projects to work on that I had not gotten to in my office. It has worked well in that I have been building a marketing/follow up program for myself which should lead to business down the road. It is difficult to get people on the phone and of course meetings in person are out of the question.
On the personal side, the good news, everyone in my family is healthy as are all of relatives and friends. That said my heart is in my mouth everyday as my daughter is a nurse and she is incredibly upset.
CREATING SOLUTIONS FROM CHALLENGES
Sal Ferro CR, CKD
Alure Home Improvements
Fusion Commercial Contracting
Both personally and professionally I choose to remain positive. These are very difficult times and we are certainly in uncharted waters on the business side. With challenge comes innovation and solutions. I believe the future is bright for our region however right now we need to take care of those in need and be grateful for all those are on the frontlines.
BUSINESSES WILL BE TRANSFORMED
Compass Workforce Solutions, LLC
As a professional engaged to support and guide clients in managing their workforce, it is like drinking from a firehose. If I had to equate it to a movie, I am starting to feel like Kevin Costner in The Guardian. The title of the film refers to a legendary figure which protects people lost at sea.
For several of our clients, their revenue “water faucet” was turned off in the blink of an eye. They will survive and when we get to the other side and we will get there, what our business looks like and how we operate will be transformed.
James D. Garbus
Chair Corporate Law Department and Corporate Finance Practice Group
Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created a profound and almost surreal new world for us all. On a personal level, I am in contact with both family and friends on a more regular basis. Checking in with each other to make sure that we are staying safe and healthy has allowed us to keep in touch more often, which, in our crazily fast-paced world, is so easy to fall out of. For me, this is a silver lining of the pandemic.
With respect to business, stress management is key. Now more than ever, it is absolutely essential to keep a clear and insightful head. Not only is it necessary to manage my team while working remotely, but it is also crucial to help my clients manage through the crisis. For me, while in this sequester, following my normal routine (from exercise to getting dressed as if I am going to the office), is keeping me grounded and able to deal with the challenges of the day.
PREPARED AND ADJUSTING
Tom Lowenberg, CPA
We had made provisions last year to be sure personnel could work remotely as part of our disaster planning. Unfortunately, we had to put it to use.
Working from home has been a challenge, although to continue workflow remotely has been good for the company and our clients. We are deemed to be an essential service, even so, to protect the health of our employees and their families, we instituted 4 shifts, each shift allowed to work in the office for 4 hours 3 days a week and the other times work remotely. We have a disinfecting procedure that each shift must perform throughout the office as soon as they enter the office.
I have never spent so much time at home EVER, certainly not during our busy season. We had a scare whereby one of the family members may have had an exposure. We certainly miss the human interaction with everyone both on the personal level as well as the business level. However, we understand that you must give up a little now so that we all reach the end of this horrible pandemic.
RECOGNIZING THE FRONTLINE HEROES
Founder, Irish Angel
A non profit supporting first responders
Having more time to put everything into perspective especially given as I have been ill myself, made me realize just how much Irish Angel is so badly needed. Never have Frontline workers been pushed to the max not only physically but mentally. Seeing firsthand on the ground how much law enforcement, first responders and medical staff are pushed to their limits, it’s made me drive forward even more with our mission.
Personally, we can do simple things, reaching out, checking in on those exposed to the pressure that this virus has put on them not only as responders but as the real people behind the job. We are all human, if anything this time of crisis I’m hoping will make people reevaluate their train of thought. It’s not about the fast buck, the high profile, or the fame. We are all human. Let’s look after one another. Out of every negative there is a positive, let’s pray it is humility.
Gregory S. Garritano, CPA, CFO
We have been spending every hour available trying to guide our clients through the maze of confusion regarding the various programs offered by the government. Many employers are worried for their employees and are trying to find the best way to keep them going while trying to keep the business viable. The proper strategy is dependent on each situation and can make a big impact on the long-term success of both the business and the individual.
SVP Business Banking Manager
City National Bank’s CEO, Kelly Coffey, announced that there would be no job cuts at our company in 2020 due to the Coronavirus crisis. Honestly, I’m sleeping better having that reassurance about the job security of all my colleagues, and I’m really proud to be a part of this organization.
This crisis is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Most of my colleagues and I are working remotely, which took some getting used to, but we have great technology in place that allows us to continue to work seamlessly from anywhere, and importantly, stay safe while supporting our clients and colleagues. And I’m dealing with the stress personally by just trying to stay really connected with my family, friends and business associates, and staying healthy daily through sticking to a routine and structure, with healthy eating, exercise, meditation breaks and my mindfulness practice.
From the Author
Like so many other business owners my challenge is to emerge from the crisis with a viable business. It is hugely difficult when employees are vulnerable and need their income. Balancing the human side and business side is a big lift. Understanding the nuances of the different relief packages that have come from Washington can create doubt and confusion. Figuring out how the company survives is a joint conversation with all stakeholders.
Being sequestered has changed my focus. If the company comes out of this it will need to be very visible during the WFH time. I have been concentrating on being relevant. I have upped my writing production with commentary about aspects of the COVID pandemic, behind the scenes business considerations and offering planning for companies that should not be abandoning their marketing efforts.
Working remotely has been facilitated by utilizing video conferencing via ZOOM, it is good to see my team. It is surreal on many levels; seeing 5th Ave in New York City empty in the middle of the day, rush hour traffic a mere fraction of normal, masks and gloves adorn those venturing out to get supplies, and all the closed storefronts. It is reminiscent of an apocalyptic movie; all we are lacking are aliens or zombies.
The mantra we are all in this together could not be truer. As a country, a world in fact, it is how we act now that will bring us ever closer to defeating the Coronavirus. Do your part.