How can I help? Or in some cases, how can WE help? As a small professional services firm in the commercial real estate industry, that’s a question we often find ourselves asking, and now more than ever in this pandemic. Across the world, across sectors, and across all kinds of boundaries, we see people showing up for others. Sometimes in the form of direct service and other times through acts of kindness and opportunity-creation. This includes businesses as well as individuals. There are countless examples of people and companies nationwide stepping up to the plate.
As a land use and development professional, here are three questions I’ve been asking myself.
1) What are the problems I typically solve? How do my skills solve client’s problems under ordinary (pre-COVID) times? An environmental consultant creates strategies for remediating contaminated soils; a civil engineer can design a site plan for a building on a uniquely shaped lot; an attorney might unravel convoluted deed restrictions; real estate advisors navigate projects with complicated financial packaging. What are the skills I use to help?
2) What problems can I solve during this pandemic? So how do I put those skills to use now? What are different or new problems I can solve for existing or new types of clients? This might require very creative thinking. Those with problems to be solved are myriad: healthcare providers struggling with staffing, protocols, and facilities; distribution supply chains adapting to the increased demand of specialty and common goods; non-profits meeting the needs of the millions affected while funding sources and philanthropy wear thin; housing providers and developers pivoting to provide safe options for families with evolving needs. Are any of these like the problems I typically solve? Are my skills applicable? Do my existing skills need to be sharpened or new skills need to be learned?
3) Am I ready to help and change? The world is changing. Some of the changes may be temporary, but others may be long-term. Am I ready to change? For the good of my business, fellow staff, clients and the public at large, are there steps I – as a business leader and professional services provider – need to take to meet the changing needs of clients and fellow citizens? What should I be doing in the short and long term to provide and sustain these new services, products, or skills?
If you are like us at White + Burke, you see the business environment as a vehicle to contribute and do good. And to continue to have these opportunities for the long-term, the business must survive. According to “Covid-19: Looking Past First-Order Effects”, a presentation by Steph Smith of Trends, companies – regardless of their trajectory before COVID – are more likely to survive or skyrocket post-Covid if they solve problems during COVID and are not purely trying to continue with the status quo and serve their own interests first. By focusing on solving problems for real estate clients and others, can I feel more confident that we are doing our part for a shared humanity in a time of high uncertainty? That is the hope. And hope does spring eternal.
Reference: Trends, by The Hustle. “COVID-19: Looking Past First-Order Effects,” presentation by Steph Smith, Senior Analyst at Trends, 2020.
By: Stephanie Clarke