How to Keep Your Consulting Firm Connected While Working Remotely

August 19, 2021

A Fireside chat with Sean McDermott, CEO of Windward Consulting

By: Kimberly Sack, Senior Manager, Product Marketing at Deltek

Recently I hosted a fireside chat with Sean McDermott, CEO of Windward Consulting. Sean has founded multiple startups and has worked with, and in, consulting firms of all sizes. In our discussion, Sean shared key takeaways that consulting firms should consider in order to optimize their hybrid workplace. If you missed our conversation, watch the on-demand webinar here.

Key takeaways to optimize your consultancy for hybrid success

1. Company culture doesn’t stop at the office doors

Just because employees aren’t in the office each day doesn’t mean company culture can be overlooked. In fact, Sean discussed how it’s more important than ever to embrace culture and ensure it permeates through internal and external interactions as much as possible. A recent survey of HR professionals from Gallup cites that 64% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged. Disengagement can often lead to unproductive staff and potentially turnover.

Tip: Measure and track an employee net promoter score to keep a pulse on employee satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.

2. Reimagine office space  

Are large offices with rows of cubicles and conference rooms still the best use of space? It really depends on your company’s unique needs and the volume and frequency of people working there. The way we all work has changed and most consulting firms are planning to incorporate at least some form of remote working. According to Hinge Research Institute’s 2021 High Growth Study, only 25% of consulting firms plan to maintain current office space.

Consider all factors as you examine the working space and office reopening plan. According to a FlexJobs survey, 65% of people working remotely during the pandemic want to continue working from home. While employees may return full-time to offices in the future, there will be at least a period of time for this hybrid approach. Collaboration and team bonding is critical to culture and current office design and remote working plans may require some adjustments.  

Tip: Rethink office space design. As Sean explained, consider a “collaboration hub” - a space where employees may not work every day but instead meet with teams, socialize, and share ideas.


Optimizing Your Consultancy to Win in a Hybrid Workplace

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3. Take a comprehensive approach

If this past year has proven anything, it’s that nothing remains the same. It wasn’t only where we worked, daily processes required adapting. Collaborating internally, meeting with clients virtually and delivering engagements or projects all changed. With all the change, adapting or pivoting was required and many consulting firms survived or even thrived despite the disruption.

Tip: Sean recommends taking a comprehensive approach. As you plan your remote working approach, flexibility is key. Consider the various factors impacting remote working – office setup, technology, working hours, processes, etc.

4. Technology is critical and cloud leads the way

Digital transformation isn’t simply leveraging technology, it’s incorporating an integrated strategy across the entire company and streamlining processes with automation. It’s no surprise that the 2021 High Growth Study reports high growth firms are more mature in core business software automation than no growth firms. Look at your company’s future goals, review your people and processes, then incorporate technology tools and automation to drive efficiencies.

Sean said it well, “Technology is the key to everything. Obviously, people are our asset but everything is enhanced through our technology investments and the innovation that we are doing there.”

The Cloud-first has been a strategy for many consulting firms and the pandemic exacerbated the need for cloud computing. Sean talked about how his firm implemented a cloud-based professional services automation (PSA) solution in 2016 and how his consulting firm was well-suited to deliver engagements throughout last year.

Tip: Effective automation is not only about the technology tool, it’s about reviewing business and IT processes and automating as many as possible, then wash, rinse and repeat. 


About the Author

Kimberly helps Deltek deliver value to architecture, engineering, consulting firms and agencies through innovative solutions. She has over 15 years of working with professional services companies. Prior to Deltek, Kimberly worked for a Microsoft partner to deliver solutions to professional services companies.