COVID-19 Response: LDa Architecture & Interiors

We check in with twelve architects, builders, designers, and suppliers to see how they are managing their staff and their businesses during this incredibly challenging time.

With the coronavirus currently taking over our personal and professional lives, the measures that have been instituted to stop its spread have had a major impact on most businesses, including those of us serving the New England design industry. In times of crisis, we turn to people who have withstood similar circumstances in the past and persevered. We reached out to twelve industry leaders who have led their firms through past crises to share what actions they are taking now, how they will measure the success of their firms over the next twelve months, and how they’re moving forward.

Years of experience have helped Douglas Dick, Treff LaFleche, John Day, and Kyle Sheffield, partners at  LDa Architecture & Interiors, keep their business running during the COVID-19 crisis.

Home is going to be more important than ever before. How do we keep consumers
engaged now?
First and foremost, we’re reaching out to our clients with concern and patience, maintaining the relationships that we’ve already established. On an engagement level, we’re having conversations with our clients about what working from home means, as well as opening the conversation about the kinds of design issues that are revealing themselves during this unusual time of confinement. All of us are experiencing our homes in new ways.

How are you communicating with your in-house teams and outside vendors?
Most of our communication with outside vendors has remained fairly typical with phone calls and email, however, showroom visits and in-person sample exchanges have stopped. We’ve started a spreadsheet to note which vendors are still active and what their current policies are. We’ve also started to track which towns and cities are stopping construction, and which of our builders and contractors are still working in the field. In-house communication is happening across a variety of channels depending on preference: email, phone, chat, and video conferencing. We’re using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and conference call providers.

How will you be defining success in three months, six months, a year?
Success will be having a physically and psychologically healthy team heading back to work in three months. Success in six months will be navigating what we assume is going to be a tough landscape economically. In one year, we hope to have served our clients, no matter how large or small the need, ask, or job.

Is there something you implemented at your firm in 2008 that worked that you are executing again?
Post 2008, we started being transparent about the financial realities of the business, showing employees how the business operates (in detail) and how their contributions fuel success or struggles. This has proven to pay dividends in an engaged and proactive staff, who understand the need to be more flexible during tough times.

How are you thinking about cash flow management differently now than in more normal times?
We are doing our best to operate as we normally do, but are having more planning meetings and looking closer at discretionary spending. We are monitoring our cash flow and working to create reserves to invest in our team and the talent we have amassed.

Are there different cost-saving strategies you are leaning on regarding staff, overhead, and discretionary spending?
We’re in the process of reviewing overhead and spending, and looking at budgetary items that can be postponed, reduced, or eliminated. Regarding staff, we’re asking our team to be flexible; job duties are going to be fluid during this time, as are workflows.

How do you ensure your “all of a sudden” remote workforce remains motivated and
productive?
A lot of communication, both up and down the line with as much video as possible! Keeping staff engaged with daily summaries and check-ins is contributing to productivity, and Monday morning “all-hands” video meetings and Friday afternoon virtual happy hours are helping to keep our staff connected to each other. Staying social is important, and we’re encouraging chats and calls to replicate the water cooler.

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