In the era of Covid-19, at IPaintMyMind, we’ve been focused on being as human as possible. We’ve made an effort to listen to our partners so we can help in the most practical and impactful of ways in the short term. Checking in with clients personally, making sure our schools have masks, and passing along resources that make e-learning a little easier and more productive. In that vein, we reached out to Liz Fischer, Chief Customer Officer at CityBase, one of our awesome art rental clients. We wanted to find out how the epidemic has affected Citybase and how they’re thinking about navigating a complex landscape.
Evan La Ruffa: First off, how has Covid-19 affected Citybase? How do you see it affecting how CB moves into the future?
Liz Fischer: Like every other business, we had to quickly batten down the hatches and make sure that we were in a secure place to keep our operations humming and our team safe in the near term. At the same time we had to look ahead and assess risk, challenges, opportunities for our clients and ourselves. We are in a lucky position in that we serve stable organizations (primarily local governments and utilities) and provide products and services core to their operations. For us there is a silver lining: with the pandemic forcing immediate transition to remote operations, local governments and utilities are accelerating the pace of change and innovation–tactically, they are finding ways to bring online processes that were previously only conducted in person.
EL: What are your thoughts about the future of workspaces?
LF: I think that all companies will offer more flexibility with regard to working remotely or in an office. While I miss the camaraderie of seeing my colleagues in person every workday, there are certainly benefits: faster more efficient meetings, no commutes, more time with our families. This will spur lasting change and will accelerate companies moving to policies such as remote-first, hoteling, and other flexible arrangements.
EL: What do you think about the potential mission-driven companies and organizations post-Covid?
LF: Another clear impact of Covid is that it magnifies your values–for both individuals and organizations. For individuals (well I can really only speak for myself!) we are living in a different way. I go on so many walks, I’ve never paid such close attention to the trees and flowers in my neighborhood. I spend so much more time with my husband and our daughter. It forces you to think, was I really living in a way that reflected my priorities and values?
I hope to take those lessons forward. Similarly, for our organizations, because this is a time of such rapid change, every organization has to ask “what are we here for?” and “what do we stand for?” Mission-driven companies (I consider both CityBase and IPMM in this category) have an advantage because we already had such strong guideposts that allow us to be nimble and make adjustments but stay true to our core purpose.
EL: What is your advice for business leaders in this weird time?
LF: Look to your mission, look to your values, and let those be the guide for how you make decisions. Also, embrace change and keep looking ahead.
EL: You and I being able to pick each others brains and reflect perspective has been super helpful to IPMM; what do you think about clients and partners relationships, and the ability to be so much more than a part of each others budgets and business deliverables as we re-emerge post-Covid?
LF: First, good! That’s mutual. Indeed, every professional relationship has become more personal and human, whether it’s with colleagues or between clients and partners. We see each other’s homes, kids, and pets on screen, and when we write “I hope you’re well” it’s with much deeper concern and care than in the past.
So yes there’s certainly an evolution underway, but I also have to say that this to me has always been the appeal of working with clients. I always want to relate as a person first and a professional second. It’s just so much more rewarding.
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