When the UK was plunged into lockdown on the 23 March 2020, the dealmaking community responded rapidly to ensure transactional activity didn’t dry up. Working practices changed almost overnight with video presentations, remote collaboration and e-signatures the order of the day.
Roll forward two years and we are all delighted to be back to a more normal world, building relationships and collaborating in person. That said, many of the practices that evolved during lockdown are here to stay. When deployed correctly, these new ways of working can be an improvement on pre-Covid practices.
The dreaded video call
I think we all experienced video call fatigue during the height of the pandemic and most of us are delighted to be back around a meeting table. One thing we have certainly learnt is that face to face meetings are much more effective (and much more enjoyable!) when building relationships, having strategic conversations and driving value creation. Partnership is key to our approach at WestBridge and, times of necessity aside, you cannot beat an in-person session for nurturing a relationship.
Having said that, being able to collaborate quickly via video conferencing has certainly enabled us to work more efficiently on such matters as due diligence and the legal process.
I’m sure our legal colleagues would agree that they don’t miss the hours of checking, cross checking and scanning wet ink signatures on completion day. Electronic signatures have made remote completion possible but sitting alone in your back bedroom trying to celebrate in glorious isolation, just doesn’t cut it.
So, while e-signatures are probably here to stay, I sincerely hope they don’t detract from the moment of final completion when everyone in the room wants to shake hands on a done deal and head for a celebratory drink together.
The change in working practices has driven huge efficiencies in the way we collaborate with our colleagues and the businesses in which we invest. Getting back to regular face to face interactions has been really important. The efficiency we have gained as a team to be able to collaborate on multiple projects, across multiple locations on any one day is a huge benefit and is here to stay.
Would we have got there without lockdown? In time, probably, but the pace of adaption was driven by necessity and has had a lasting impact on the way we work forever.
It falls on us all to adopt the best working practices we developed over lockdown and move on from the rest going forwards.