accept that you don’t have all the answers, especially concerning the pandemic, and you are open to suggestions.”

He added: “If you don’t communicate regularly with staff, there is a risk they may become disenfranchised because they feel isolated. You can’t allow a vacuum in communications to arise. If it does, people may reach conclusions that are not borne out by the facts.”

For example, when the first lockdown kicked in, the south coast’s professional services rumour mill was soon speculating about possible redundancies and salary reductions. “I quickly made it clear that neither were on our agenda. We have maintained 100% salaries throughout, whether or not people have been furloughed. Any financial pain has been felt by the partners, not by staff,” Taylor emphasised.

Paris Smith is particularly pleased that its efforts have been recognised by the Law Society in its 2020 Annual Excellence Awards, where the firm was highly commended for Excellence in Marketing and Communications.

Better corporate governance

Another thing the pandemic has highlighted is the benefit to businesses of talking through problems and trying to see both sides of a situation. “In particular, the way companies resolve commercial conflicts is playing an increasingly important role in what determines good corporate governance,” thought Taylor.

He explained: “The traditional approach to resolving conflicts tends to be attritional and confrontational. Businesses are now looking for win/win outcomes. Taking a more balanced way of dealing with conflicts enhances your reputation and will attract interest from like- minded businesses as partners, suppliers and customers, to build long-term relationships.”

Local focus

Covid-19 has also meant competitors are more willing to talk to each other about common issues they face. “We are learning from each other and sharing ideas on actions,” Taylor observed. “Collectively, we’re looking for solutions that benefit us, and the communities where we work.”

During the pandemic, Paris Smith has also strengthened its relationships with local universities, chambers of commerce and LEPs.

“People want to support local businesses and see their own economic hubs thrive. That requires shorter and wider supply chains, where the focus is on buying locally and travelling less to reduce pollution,” said Taylor. “This creates more opportunities for firms like ours to work with, and for, the local community.”

He believes the traditional single business pillar of achieving profitability has been joined by two more: people and planet. “Businesses are reviewing their sense of purpose and that is a positive step.”

City of culture bid

The virus and lockdown are changing business attitudes about people, collaboration and community. Taylor reckons the positive energy these new attitudes generate can be put to good use in supporting Southampton’s bid to be the 2025 City of Culture.

“The bid will rely on collaboration across Hampshire and the south coast,” said Taylor. “It provides a fantastic opportunity for businesses to come together around the single, shared purpose of creating a lasting legacy for the region.”

Peter Taylor



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