The Tees Business Sunday Briefing – with Elaine McLaine-Wood

In the first of a new weekly e-news feature, we talk to business leaders about the current Covid crisis, how they’re adapting and we can bounce back.

Name: Elaine McLaine-Wood
Age: 45
Position: Managing Partner
Company: Punch Robson Solicitors
Location: Teesside

TB: How are you dealing with the current Covid crisis and how much has it impacted on your business?
EMW: Dealing with the crisis has been like a rollercoaster, from both a professional and personal perspective. As days then weeks passed it has got easier. With regards to my business we have been impacted whereby the transactional work (i.e. residential conveyancing) has been paused and new instructions have reduced drastically. We have also had to adjust with regards to some staff working from home, some staff being furloughed and also operating a skeleton staff in the office.

TB: What is morale like within your organisation and among staff?
EMW: I have been in touch with the staff that are furloughed since it is important to keep them appraised of the situation. Some furloughed staff have actually provided the staff in the office with gifts to keep our spirits going. With regards to the staff that are working, we have supported each other not just from a professional level but emotional when some have better days than others so notwithstanding living and working in the difficult situation we are working very well. If anything I consider that we are a much closer knit team.

TB: How much has government intervention helped you and how do you think the government has handled the crisis?
EMW: The greatest thing that has come from the government with regards to business support is the furlough scheme. That has helped us immensely and the timing of introducing it was key. I consider that the government have handled the crisis with regards to support for businesses very well.

TB: How much do you think it will affect the Tees region, in terms of job losses and a recession?
EMW: I suspect that it will affect business and there will be casualties. There is no doubt we will be entering into a deep recession once we are able to operate our businesses without restrictions. It will affect all businesses until 2022 which is when I consider there would be a recovery. With regards to Teesside and how this may differ from other regions, I think would be favourable. The work Ben Houchen has done with regards to the former SSI site among other initiatives will provide confidence and enable new jobs to be created.

TB: What do you think we need to do to as a region to bounce back as quickly as possible?
EMW: Work together and keep the work within Teesside – also help others with regards to mentoring and provide support. Act with integrity with businesses we support – they will remember those that supported them in the difficult times. The rewards will come from this.

TB: And for your business, how do you plan to bounce back?
EMW: Ensure we offer a high level of client care and service to the people that we serve and continue to offer the services that we do. Continue to work with other professionals, with whom we can reciprocate work.

TB: If there was one positive message you could share, what would it be?
EMW: Being grateful for what you have and the great region we are a part of. Provided you and your loved ones are healthy, everything will follow since we are part of a good region who provide support to one another.

TB: How will your business work differently after the crisis is over?
EMW: I expect there’ll be more homeworking, less face-to-face meetings and no doubt more efficiencies due to less travel.