Pandemic responses at Florida's best companies
The pandemic forced firms to reconsider how they do business. Here's how some of the Best Companies to work for are handling the outbreak.
Hunton Andrews Kurth
No. 1 Large | Richmond, Va.
With many businesses thrust into remote working by COVID-19, the workplace might not ever look quite the same. For the Hunton Andrews Kurth law firm, which employs 58 in Miami, the pandemic has shown that telecommuting can work well. During the coronavirus shutdown, employees enjoyed not having to commute to work every day and remained just as productive, if not more so, says Juan Enjamio, managing partner of the firm’s Miami office. He says remote working and video conferencing also have led to cost savings for the firm due to lower travel expenses.
“People have adjusted and have done the things they need to do to make sure we look out for one another and also continue to provide service,” he says. “In the legal profession, I think you’ll see clients and lawyers more comfortable doing things remotely. A lot of face-to-face meetings that involved travel may be done remotely now by video conferencing because we have seen that it can work.”
While Enjamio sees fewer in-person meetings and more flexible work arrangements long term, he doesn’t expect the office to disappear. “Obviously, some things can’t be done remotely,” he says. “I just think the new equilibrium will be tilted a little more toward remote work and not getting on a plane to do face-to-face meetings all the time.”
Besides the benefits of telecommuting, he says, the shutdown has shown the importance of social interaction. “People have a need to reach out and touch and communicate with each other,” he says. “I don’t think that will ever go away.”
First Florida Credit Union
No. 8 Midsized | Jacksonville
Brent Lister, President & CEO -
Avoiding Layoffs: “Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to change our operations, we did not furlough or lay off any employees. With our strong capital position, we knew it was critical to do everything we could to ensure that our employees could continue to take care of their families and retain their benefits.”
Communication: “Roughly 25% of our staff began working remotely in mid-March. Our leadership team has put a major emphasis on communication during the pandemic across all segments of our business. We surveyed those employees working from home to ensure they had the technology and support necessary to complete their work. We also have made a concerted effort to stay connected through video conferencing to foster that face-to-face contact that our remote employees are missing from their regular routines. So far, we’ve been pleased with the productivity of the work being completed by our remote employees.”
No. 1 Small | Jacksonville
Jacksonville accounting firm GunnChamberlain already was busy with tax season when Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help small businesses hurt by the pandemic. Within days, the firm’s accountants were hosting hourlong webinars for dozens of clients seeking information about new business loans.
“We took a couple of team members out of our cloud-based accounting services division and created what we called our federal Paycheck Protection Program task force,” says co-founding partner Marshall Gunn.
As the firm’s workload increased, some employees also found themselves at home juggling their jobs and child care amid school closures and social distancing. “They had a second job given to them called teacher,” Gunn says. “We would see a surge in people working online after regular hours. It was the craziest tax season I can ever remember, and I’ve been doing this a long time.”
Gunn, who describes himself as old-school in his views on telecommuting, says he’ll be more open to allowing employees to work remotely in the future. “It honestly worked well for us. I was a little surprised,” he says. “The productivity of our team stayed up, and as long as that’s the case, I’m happy whether people are working at home or in the office.”