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Home / COVID-19 Coverage / 12 local CEOs share their wisdom, coping skills

12 local CEOs share their wisdom, coping skills

Contending with the Great Pause needs astute business leadership

These are unprecedented times, and numerous businesses in the Rochester region are facing obstacles they have never had to overcome before.

The Rochester Business Journal thought it would be helpful to turn to a few CEOs, proven successful leaders, for their views. We hope the wisdom they’ve learned through their experiences will help other businesses, large and small, to cope with the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

We received responses from 11 CEOs whose companies are either headquartered here or have a large presence in the area:

  • Eric Bieber, MD, President and CEO, Rochester Regional Health
  • Lauren Dixon, Co-Founder and CEO of Dixon Schwabl
  • Paul Guglielmo, Founder and CEO of Guglielmo Sauce, LLC
  • Michael Hess, CEO, President and Founder, Waste Harmonics
  • Mark J. Kovaleski, CPA, Managing Partner, Mengel Metzger Barr & Co.
  • Jay McHarg, CEO, AeroSafe Global
  • Faheem Masood, President and CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union
  • Jett Mehta, President and CEO, Indus Hospitality Group
  • Martin Mucci, President and CEO, Paychex
  • Peter Schottland, CEO, American Packaging Corporation
  • Justin Smith, President and COO of Brite

 

A 12th executive, MVP Health Care’s President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Del Vecchio, didn’t respond to our questions but did offer a statement that said, in part:

 

Chris Del Vecchio

Chris Del Vecchio

“As a health insurer, caring for our members and the community is –and has always been–our top priority. … Now more than ever, organizations must continue to be innovative and agile while understanding and investing in their top priority. MVP has worked hard to flatten the COVID-19 curve by implementing new systems, processes, and policies that not only benefit the health and well-being of its employees, but its members and the communities we serve.”

Like Del Vecchio, not everyone responded to every question, and some of the emailed responses were edited out because they were too similar to other responses. Otherwise, we tried to stay true to the responses as they were received.

  • Responses compiled and lightly edited for space, redundancies and grammar by Special Products Editor Dick Moss, dmoss@bridgetowermedia.com

 

RBJ: How can businesses — and your business or institution in particular — best position themselves to come out of this crisis on a stable footing?

Eric Bieber, RRH: Put the customer first — in our case, patient health care needs. Provide an integrated, high quality care experience across all system facilities and delivery channels. Honor your employees. Support them with the training and tools they need to do their jobs. Recognize and reward their centrality to fulfilling your organization’s mission. Maintain strong relationships with your community, supply chains, government entities, vendors, industry peers — and within your own organization. Ensure operational continuity. Beyond disaster recovery systems, build interlocking leadership teams that can sustain the organization even in the absence of key members. Maintain fiscal strength to enable high-value investments in people, processes and technology. Innovate to drive ever-improving quality and outcomes.

Lauren Dixon, Dixon Schwabl: The way to come out of this on stable footing is to take care of your most valuable assets — for us, it’s about our people and our clients. I told my team members I don’t care about making money during this time. I care about taking care of all of our Dixon Schwabl families and people we do business with. Our goal should be to break even and I’ll be dancing in the streets!

Paul Guglielmo, Guglielmo Sauce:  I think we have learned valuable lessons about how much we depend on all links of the supply chain.  Also, we’ve learned lessons about how long we can survive off of what we have on hand, and whether or not we should rethink that appropriate amount of inventory to keep on hand at any given time.

Michael Hess, Waste Harmonics: First and foremost, the safety and well-being of our employees, their families, our customers and our vendors is at the top of the list. We’re grateful to work with a hardworking, talented group of people internally and externally, and without them our business wouldn’t be where it is.

Trash is an essential service across all industries and many businesses are relying heavily on us to keep things running. We’re doing everything we can to provide the support our employees, customers and vendors need during this time — from enabling fully remote working operations to servicing adjustments and contract adjustments that lessen the burden of financial hardships. Being there for one another, listening and adapting, where necessary, in the face of uncertainty will help us all get through this together.

Mark Kovaleski, Mengel Metzger Barr: The most important advice I can give is to stay calm and not overreact.  This pandemic is unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime and the impact on the economy and small business is game changing.  Businesses must be able to adapt quickly in the short-term to stay on course. However, beyond that, they must take a step back and ensure they are not making rash decisions that could potentially benefit the short-term but seriously damage their long-term viability. There will be some closings, but the vast amount of area businesses are strong businesses that will endure this crisis and thrive in the future.

Jay McHarg, AeroSafe: I am fortunate to be part of a company that helps deliver medicines to those in need. We are certainly not as important as those that diagnose the illness or develop the life-saving drugs or those on the front lines caring for the sick — but we like to think we make a difference by ensuring the safe delivery of amazing products that make lives better.  For this reason, we are an essential business and must continue to support our customers during this pandemic.

Our site in Rochester employs about 150 people, 100 of which must still come to work every day to build high-tech insulated containers that are used to ship temperature-sensitive medicines, including many of the COVID-19 clinical trial studies currently underway.

The challenge of this crisis is not only how you keep everyone physically healthy, but also how you can ensure the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce we are counting on to get us through this pandemic. By implementing policies and procedures that are sustainable and potentially indefinite, we are creating a new way of working together while hopefully preserving the culture, work ethic and sense of worth that got us here. This should allow us to come out of this crisis with minimal disruption.

Faheem Masood

Faheem Masood

Faheem Masood, ESL: The most important thing for us at ESL is to be there for our employees, our customers and the Greater Rochester community in times of need. We state our purpose is to “help our community thrive and prosper,” and demonstrating this has never been more important than to address what we’re experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic. If the community thrives, ESL thrives, and the ability to thrive in this environment is certainly being challenged during these unprecedented events.

We are prepared and managed to sustain events such as this, so the ability to offer loan payment deferments, remove fees and provide vital loans to our personal and business customers is vital during these uncertain times. ESL and other financial institutions extending these financial hardship offerings to customers helps them, us and the community at large. This is a disruption in our way of life unlike anything we’ve experienced before, but we are already seeing stories across Greater Rochester of individuals and organizations helping to support the community. These stories are a necessity because they have the ability to lift up and reinforce our belief that we are one of the strongest and most resilient communities anywhere.

Jeff Mehta, Indus: Keeping in constant communication with our team has been crucial in continuing operations. We cannot be successful without one another. Also, maintaining a solid network of like-minded business owners gives us a support system to get past a crisis like this. As the rules change day to day, having people internal and external to the organization to speak to gives perspective and helps spark new, innovative ideas to overcome the hurdles.

Martin Mucci, Paychex: Be mindful of your financial position and strength, including cash on hand. During times of less demand for your services, you must conserve your spending and identify costs that can be reduced without impacting your service to clients and your growth opportunities and without minimizing employee disruption. Review your trends from past recessions or downturns and plan accordingly. Try not to make short-term decisions that will not benefit your business, including the impact on your clients and employees, in the long run. Pay attention to new norms that arise from this environment and take actions to prepare for them, including changes in the way your clients want to be sold to or serviced. You also find that, during times like this, high-performing, well-trained employees working in a culture with strong company values are better able to respond and adjust, and support your business and clients.

Peter Schottland, American Packaging: American Packaging is well positioned in this economic environment as we produce packaging for food and pharmaceutical customers. As an essential business, we have continued to operate through this crisis and are seeing upticks in a number of areas of our business as the entire industry works to keep supply on store shelves. We are investing in new equipment locally and will be adding up to 100 high paying, manufacturing jobs over the next 6-12 months. Our efforts have focused on taking care of our people as they are the critical component to our success—both now and in the future.

Justin Smith, Brite: For me, this is clear. You must do everything you can to maintain your most valuable asset, your employees. If I have learned anything from the last twenty years of owning Brite and managing through two prior crises, your employees are paramount to a recovery, but more importantly to an acceleration.  After 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008, we saw significant bounce-backs almost immediately. Business activity levels picked up rapidly and we were able to handle more opportunities than those organizations that had been forced to down-size during the economic downturns that occurred. I would recommend to anyone running a small business to do their best in this regard as it will pay dividends in the end.

M&T Bank’s Gary Keith recently was quoted as saying this isn’t a time for calculating numbers, it’s a time for taking action. What are some actions you’ve taken to address this crisis?

Eric Bieber

Eric Bieber

Bieber, RRH: Mr. Keith was speaking as a banker and economist about bottom-line profit and loss. As a not-for-profit health system, fiscal strength is the bedrock on which we build our services to our community. However, during the COVID-19 crisis, we emphasized attention to numbers of a different kind: COVID-19 test results; patient surge predictions; personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies; staffing needs.

Many of the actions we took long before COVID-19 had put us in a strong position to meet the crisis. We’d standardized on evidence-based care protocols system-wide, improving patient care outcomes. We’d developed electronic systems for digital health care delivery and patient-centric records access. We’d pioneered advanced surgical standards recognizing the special vulnerabilities of aging populations.

Specifically in regards to COVID-19, when the virus first appeared in China in December, we watched closely, collaborated regionally, and adjusted operations to prepare for the anticipated patient surge. When the time came, we acted ahead of the curve to:

  • Protect the health and safety of patients, staff and the community through visitor restrictions.
  • Establish Rochester’s first hospital in-house COVID-19 testing capabilities, followed by drive-through testing.
  • Increase bed capacity by postponing elective surgeries and moving appropriate appointments to telemedicine.
  • Collaborate with county, state and federal governments, and other health systems to create a phased, integrated plan for regional crisis response.
  • Work with our supply-chain partners, including local businesses, to acquire or create personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect staff, patients, and the community even during the crisis of national shortages.
  • Cross-train staff for redeployment into needed areas.
  • Innovate digital health care delivery channels to meet patient needs. For example, we partnered with the Israeli company Datos Health to create an automated remote care platform to monitor COVID-19 positive healthcare workers and patients from home. This alleviated strain on the health system, and protected others from exposure while ensuring that COVID-19 patients received high quality medical care and attention.

 

Dixon, Dixon Schwabl: Right now, we are focusing on offering clients services to help them navigate their way through this crisis, while at the same time helping them develop strategies to re-enter the new world to come. That’s different for every client, but it basically comes down to clear communication strategies and exploring ways to reinvent the services they offer.

Guglielmo, Guglielmo Sauce:  We changed some areas of our production in order to be able to pump out product faster. No changes that would impact our consumer’s experience with our product, but we found that by changing our pack size from 6 to 12 jars per case, we could accommodate our customers faster. We still prefer the 6 to a case pack size, but the change was necessary, albeit temporary.

Michael Hess

Michael Hess

Hess, Waste Harmonics: Fortunately, we had the systems and tools in place to be able to have the majority of our business functions operate in a remote environment. We ensured all of our employees were equipped with the necessary equipment to work from home and safely social distance during this time.

We’re working closely with all of our customers and vendors to provide them the support they need and address any challenges they may currently be facing — including service requirements or re-negotiating contracts to reduce business financial constraints. Every customer and vendor has different needs, and we’re here to lend a hand and support them when they need it most.

Kovaleski, Mengel Metzger Barr: The most important message to our clients, friends and community partners is to stay safe and stay strong.  The primary actions we immediately took to address this crisis were designed completely for one purpose, and that was to keep our employees and clients safe and healthy. This was primarily accomplished through a mandatory work from home policy even though we were allowed to come to work since we were deemed “essential” employees.  There are obvious economic consequences that are still hard to determine but these are temporary and as they say “this too shall pass.”

McHarg, AeroSafe: Today’s uncertainty is unprecedented. Surprises will continue happen, and we must be prepared for this new reality. The most important action we took was to ensure our employees that no matter what happens, the company has their back … we are one big family that needs to work together to get through this.

Our employees appreciate the fact that they are essential during this crisis, and we have taken steps to ensure they know how much we appreciate them … such as increased base pay, additional paid time off and flexible work schedules. They need to know that we will support them and their families throughout this ordeal.

Everyone needs to feel safe—not just be safe but feel safe. If they feel safe, then their families will be comfortable with them going to work. In Rochester, the company has doubled the footprint of the refurbishment area (with the same number of employees) to spread out the refurbishment team and create acceptable social distancing. The workload is divided into “cells” that have dedicated teams, workspace and break/lunch space.

Masood, ESL: Our actions have been numerous in support of our employees, our customers and the greater community. The physical and financial health and well-being of employees, customers and community is our top priority. If our employees aren’t healthy and can’t work, then we can’t properly serve our customers, so ensuring their safety through social distancing measures was our first step. These actions include making sure as many of our employees who could work from home were doing so, we instituted drive-up-only services at our branches, and also split staff who couldn’t work from home between our headquarters and business continuity site with social distancing practices in place at those facilities.

Financially, we’ve ensured that employees impacted by the coronavirus are paid for their full scheduled hours, whether they need to miss part or all of their hours in order to care for themselves or their families.

For our customers, our actions are geared toward the integrity of our business operations and making sure we are able to properly meet their banking needs. While branch lobbies may be closed, our branches are still open providing drive-up teller services only, and select in-branch services by appointment only. While we’ve certainly seen an uptick in the usage of our digital channels, not all of our customers use or have access to those channels, so branch services remain vital while we also implement social distancing measures.

We have also done a great deal to address financial hardships our customers may be experiencing. The most prominent actions being the removal of several fees and providing loan payment deferments to those in need. With the fee removals and loan payment deferments, we will continue to evaluate the situation around the coronavirus, as there is no certainty around how long this will last. As situations change, so must the services and relief we provide to our customers.

From a greater community standpoint, our charitable foundation has remained active throughout these weeks. We donated $1 million to the necessary United Way of Greater Rochester’s Community Crisis Fund, and continue to provide vital backbone funding to local nonprofits that are experiencing financial stresses due to the coronavirus crisis. We reinvest our profits back into the community in order to build a healthy, equitable and resilient Greater Rochester community. This coronavirus pandemic only reinforces our need to continue with these reinvestments, as the funds are needed now more than ever.

All of these actions are geared toward making sure we’re doing our part to help our community through these uncertain times, while staying positive that we will get through this by working together and helping one another through this.

Mehta, Indus: Early in the crisis we established a team of stakeholders to lead company communications and procedural implementation. Our mantra is to be disciplined and focused, ready to adapt to obstacles as they present themselves. Being an essential industry creates its own set of difficulties, which I think we deal with promptly and with heart.

Mucci, Paychex: At Paychex, we immediately took actions to keep our employees safe while allowing them to do their jobs, including servicing our clients. We discontinued all non-essential travel and large gatherings and implemented our business continuity plan, which included moving over 95 percent of our employees across the country and in Europe (more than 15,000) to a work-from-home environment within 5-6 days. We basically shut down more than 100 facilities other than for essential personnel needed to do critical on-site work. We established corporate guidelines for dealing with employee virus information and created detailed and transparent communications to our employees and clients through email and on our website. This communication has been updated almost daily to our clients and employees. We have also continued to brief our board of directors on behalf of our shareholders. Paychex has worked with the federal government to offer support from our position as one of the largest providers of HR and payroll services to small and mid-sized businesses, providing them with data and insights as they author critical legislation that impacts small and mid-sized businesses. And, we quickly responded to the new Paycheck Protection (loan forgiveness) Program by developing standardized payroll reports that assisted our clients in applying for the Small Business Administration loans in a fast and efficient manner.

Peter Schottland

Peter Schottland

Schottland, American Packaging: Our primary focus is to keep employees safe during this period. Our Emergency Response Team meets daily to discuss and adjust policies and practices at our facilities around the country based on CDC, state and local governmental guidance. As most companies did, we immediately moved to have as many people work from home as possible. For folks working in our facilities, we ramped up cleaning and social distancing practices and we have listened to our employees for their suggestions. We also have worked with employees to accommodate personal needs and concerns as much as possible as it was critical to take care of employees’ physical and mental health during this period of high stress.

Smith, Brite: We took the expert’s early advice to heart and implemented our Business Continuity Plan on March 17th, in advance of the governor’s mandate on March 20.  It has been my belief that the sooner we became part of the solution, the sooner the problem would begin to resolve.  Brite has been able to shift to a remote work environment with all but 4-5 “essential” employees at the office on any given day.  As an organization, we wanted to be a positive contributor to getting the entire country back to work!

RBJ: Do you think the local economy will be able to bounce back quickly once normal conditions are restored? Or do you foresee a long period of recovery? And why?

Bieber, RRH: Rochester has a strong manufacturing base, excellent universities, innovative entrepreneurs, and a highly skilled labor pool — not to mention superb health care institutions. We will bounce back even stronger, because we have seen the weaknesses in the conditions once considered “normal,” including supply-chain vulnerabilities, inequitable resource distribution, and inadequate federal fail-safes. We won’t return to that old normal. We’ll forge a new one that’s more resilient, connected and adaptive. As for how quickly this will happen, some of it already has. But there’s no end date; the improvements must be iterative and continuous. We simply have to get better and better — integrating new learning into future action — and never stop. Fortunately, Rochester has the resources and brainpower to do exactly that.

Dixon, Dixon Schwabl: I think Rochester will bounce back quickly! We are strong … we are resilient … we are courageous! I believe there will be pent-up energy for people to get out and enjoy all the things they haven’t been able to — restaurants, shopping, community events. I also believe we will see the fruits of what smart business owners are doing right now — reinventing themselves for the marketplace to come. The way you do business may change forever, but the basic needs of your current customers will remain and need to be fulfilled.

Guglielmo, Guglielmo Sauce:  I do.  Perhaps I’m blindly optimistic. Perhaps I didn’t own a business during our last recession and so I have lessons yet to learn.  But I believe that the businesses in this country will be eager to re-open and re-hire, and that it will wake our economy up just as fast as it was put to sleep. On a personal level, post-pandemic, I will continue to support small businesses and think it’s important for all of us to do our part to support each other.

Kovaleski, Mengel Metzger Barr: I think it will take a while, but it will happen. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to simply flip a switch and state that the pandemic is over and the local economy is back to 100%.  I anticipate that businesses will slowly be phased back in to regular operations as restrictions are lifted.  We need to balance everyone’s continued personal safety and health with that of the restoration of the local economy.

McHarg, AeroSafe: I don’t think there will be an abrupt end to this crisis; instead, there will be a prolonged time of gradual change back to some new “normal.” There will still be many unknowns and uncertainty as to how we get back to normal, so society will take its time. This is why we are implementing policies and procedures that are not only beneficial today, but may become standard operating procedures of the future. Due to the uncertainty of the future, we cannot rely on quick fixes or suboptimal changes.

Masood, ESL: It’s truly tough to read the tea leaves with these conditions because what we’re seeing is unprecedented. Greater Rochester is strong and resilient. We will recover from this, but how long it will take is impossible to know for certain.

What we do know is that federal agencies are using all of the tools available to help us through this as best as possible. The aggressive actions from the Federal Reserve ensure there will be plenty of liquidity in the markets; financial institutions are much better prepared for such a downturn thanks to regulations put in place after the 2008 recession; and, the components of the CARES Act provide crucial resources for individuals and businesses across the country. We will know quickly whether it was enough or if more funds are needed, but it is promising to hear the federal government say that more funds will be made available, if necessary. I know all of us hope for a quick recovery, and I know we at ESL will be doing everything we can to be there for our customers to help and guide them through these economic conditions.

Mehta, Indus: Our region is uniquely dynamic, diverse and resilient but going forward no one should expect life as we knew it just a few weeks ago. It will not only be a long road to stabilize the economy and workforce, but also to have people feel safe and trust again. There is a great value living in Rochester and it is not only fiscal, but cultural. Partnerships within our communities paired with humility and patience will help us attain that stability.

Mucci, Paychex: During such an unprecedented health crisis, it’s difficult to predict; however, taking an optimistic view that there will be a “flattening of the curve” — a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases — and that we will procure a “quick” test for the virus over the next few months, I think we could see a relatively quick recovery for many parts of the economy. I believe the demand for restaurants’ services and other similar establishments will increase quite dramatically, even though there may continue to be some relaxed level of social distancing required. I think businesses that serve larger concentrations of people like the airline industry may take a bit longer to rebound, but all in all, I do think the recovery will begin early this summer and improve through the fall and winter. Keep in mind that we had a very high-functioning economy just a month ago with very low unemployment and high demand. I think the demand for travel and entertainment, personal services, etc., will be there, but it may have to be delivered in new ways or rebound over time to more pre-COVID-19 levels.

Schottland, American Packaging: The Rochester economy has demonstrated over the years that we are resilient, and I expect that to be the case as we return to a new normal. However, as we have seen for prior significant world events, I expect this crisis will have a lasting impact on people’s attitude and approach to both work and family. We will see increases in the need for flexibility and the ability to work remotely. And we will continue to see an increased appreciation for what each person in our community does to support our lives and lifestyles. For example, the gratitude for health care workers, grocery store personnel and other under-appreciated essential functions has been heartwarming to see during this crisis.

Smith, Brite: In the past (9/11 and 2008), I saw fairly rapid bounce backs in normal working conditions and minimal impact to our local economy.  However, I believe that this recovery may be a little slower than before. While New York is currently the national epicenter of this pandemic and may be reaching the apex of the outbreak, it appears that the virus will continue to work its way through the country over the coming weeks or months. As a result, I anticipate that business conditions in Upstate New York will likely improve more rapidly than they will in New York City and in other regions of the country.

RBJ: Do you think the response to the current crisis has created a tipping point that will fundamentally alter the way we work moving forward (more remote work, for example)?

Bieber, RRH: It will accelerate innovation trends—such as telemedicine and remote vital-sign monitoring—that already had begun. Just as battlefield medicine drove advances in mainstream health care — such as the use of tourniquets and penicillin — COVID-19 forced quicker adoption of emergent technologies. Now even our most senior citizens (like my mother) have become Zoom wizards. Institutions and their workers have overcome technology learning curves, and as a result will have more flexibility to work remotely, meet virtually, and communicate digitally. Health care will always involve hands-on human contact, just as it will always be good, at least from time to time, to look your colleagues in their real faces. From now on, though, we’ll be more adaptable to unforeseen circumstances — like another global pandemic.

Lauren Dixon

Lauren Dixon

Dixon, Dixon Schwabl:  Quite possibly for some companies and industries. For us, the change will probably not be that great. Our team already enjoyed flexible hours, but I do think the ease of staying in contact through technology has opened up new efficiencies in working together. And while working remotely may increase, I have found through our calls to individual team members that they really, really miss the in-person interaction and closeness of office friendships.

Guglielmo, Guglielmo Sauce:  Yes, I believe that some managers with “old school mentalities” regarding work-at-home vs. in-office have just been forced to recognize productivity can exist the other way.  Once they see that, they’ll begin to crunch numbers and recognize rent/utility savings on physical space may be attractive if they continue to keep employees home.

Kovaleski, Mengel Metzger Barr: The 1980 gold medal Olympic hockey coach, Herb Brooks, famously told his players before going on to upset the Russians, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” I truly believe that this unprecedented pandemic will provide many opportunities to positively change the way we work and deliver our services.  Progressive businesses are using these challenging times to implement changes in their business models.  Substantial investments in technology have enabled business to have their workforce work remotely and still provide seamless client service.

McHarg, AeroSafe: People and companies are finding new ways to accomplish the same goals. Companies have been forced to change the way they work, and some of these changes are surprisingly more effective and efficient than expected. For example, in our operation, we didn’t know that for many assembly activities, three teams of two people would be more productive and engaged than one team of six. In fact, the results are so much better that this is going to be our new operational plan after this crisis is over. There are also going to be longer-term effects and changes in remote work. I believe more people will want to work remotely and companies will have to find new ways to accommodate this.

We have asked ourselves how we can maintain the culture of the company as we change the way it operates, but for now I believe the current situation has challenged us to innovate, collaborate and grow like never before. As Andy Grove once said, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”

Masood, ESL: I know that current events have certainly driven us to provide work-from-home capabilities to many more positions and departments. The changes and enhancements have been very well-received by our employees, as the flexibility has alleviated concerns around health, childcare, and the like. From what I’ve witnessed over the past weeks, I can confidently say that we are prepared for a future that embraces more remote work.

On the “remote banking” side, year after year we see more of our customers moving to digital banking platforms — be it via our mobile app or online banking. We continuously listen to our customers in regards to the digital capabilities they need, but we have also learned that they still require in-person service as well, which we have also seen continuously increase year-over-year. Our goal is to always make sure our digital and in-person services complement each other so we appropriately maintain the superior experience our customers expect from us.

Mehta, Indus: Undoubtedly, yes. In our industry, on a “normal” day, cleanliness and efficiency are operational pillars. We have already taken it to a new level and many additional precautions we are taking now will stick in the future whether they are mandated by the government, our brands, or by Indus Hospitality Group.

Mucci, Paychex: I do. There has been growing interest and acceptance from employees for remote work, and an increasing willingness by businesses to allow employees to work from home as the employment market has become more competitive. Technology has enabled increased levels of productivity and connection with video conferencing and other online tools. With that technology, companies have discovered ways to do many on-site activities virtually, including direct sales of products and services, training, and web and application development, among others. Paychex employees have found that many of them can work from home, and with the right tools, resources, and environment, they can be trained and supported well, have good communication and collaboration with their team members, and provide the same outstanding level of service to their clients, even if done differently than they were used to.

This crisis may dramatically increase tele-sales and sales over the web as the buyer’s side acceptance and demand increase. In other words, an increasing number of buyers have found it is more comfortable to research, demo, and purchase goods and services online or with their mobile apps, rather than interact directly with a sales representative. Paychex has been preparing for this for some time with a growing number of tele-sales reps and tools in place. In addition, a larger portion of our clients with remote workforces are using our mobile app for their product delivery, including time tracking (employees punching in and out on their watches), payroll, changing their retirement plans, human resource and administration support, and being more accepting of pay practices like Pay-on-Demand, which allows businesses to pay employees for completed work shifts immediately rather than waiting for a two-week pay period.

Schottland, American Packaging: The use of technology to work remotely will fundamentally shift our approach to business. We adapted immediately and our business has not missed a beat. The tools and infrastructure are now in place and being utilized routinely – this will continue in the future. In addition, in this world of social distancing, we will continue to see an increased recognition for the impact each person’s actions can have on the entire community.

Smith, Brite: I believe that this crisis has certainly provided opportunities for us to explore the way in which we not only work, but also live.  At Brite, we have been using remote collaboration and meeting tools effectively for many years.  However, we have seen that usage increase significantly over the past few weeks both internally and externally.  My personal belief, and hope, is that as a society we do not fundamentally alter the way we work or live and we continue to value face to face meetings and the personal connections with other human beings. Additionally, this crisis has highlighted the importance of supporting other local businesses. In the coming days, I predict that there will be a greater emphasis on promoting commerce within our own community. Together we will win.

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