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law


Paris Smith: What we can learn from the lockdown


Managing partner Peter Taylor shares his views on what lessons Hampshire-based law firm Paris Smith has learned from the coronavirus pandemic


The Covid-19 crisis has been a major test for a firm with an ethos of enabling its people to be the ‘best versions of themselves’. Not surprisingly, the impact of the pandemic on its staff has been front-of-mind for managing partner Peter Taylor, as the firm continues to develop collaborative ways of working which also benefit the wider community.


Greater wellbeing


“People will remember how their employers made them feel during the pandemic long after the virus has gone and the vaccine has done its work,” Taylor emphasised.


At the outset of the lockdown, he sent an all-employee email that began a supportive communications programme aimed at ensuring staff still felt connected and part of the Paris Smith team, “even though we were now running 250 home offices”.


Taylor said: “I was very conscious we had to ensure the firm’s culture and team ethic were maintained. It’s important that we are open, honest and transparent with everyone about the present circumstances while optimistic about the opportunities for the future.”


He added: “I’m immensely proud of all our staff. The way they have responded to the pandemic has been absolutely outstanding. It is a pleasure and privilege to serve them.”


Office reappraisal


Paris Smith’s offices are Covid-safe. The staff had the opportunity to contribute to the framework of measures which were implemented to ensure that the members of the firm felt safe in the offices.


The firm is also mindful of the fact that some staff feel anxious about their journey to work in the midst of the virus. Many have readily adapted to working from home. Indeed, a staff survey revealed that the majority said they would prefer to be able to work two or three days a week from home after the pandemic is past.


28 businessmag.co.uk


“We are factoring this in to our future business model,” Taylor noted. “It will impact the amount of office space we need, how we use that space, how we supervise, develop and support our staff, while continuing to work collaboratively and maintaining the special Paris Smith culture.”


Communication is key


Providing regular and consistent communication was another key lesson learned – and not just internally.


“We opened the ‘PS community hub’ on our website,” said Taylor. “It’s an online platform for staff, clients and anyone else to share ideas and support on dealing with physical and mental wellbeing issues associated with remote working.”


The firm also set up a ‘COBRA-style’ emergency committee. “This helps us to respond quickly to government instructions and demonstrate to staff that we are putting in place plans to keep them safe,” he noted.


Since lockdown started, Taylor has broadcast his own personal weekly video to all in Paris Smith, in which he aims to be open and frank. This was particularly pertinent for him, as a kidney transplant meant he had to shield at home.


“I talk about how I’m feeling with life and try not to shy away from showing vulnerability. I think it brings us all closer together. As a business leader, you should


THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021


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