COVID-19 Response: Patrick Ahearn, Principal, Patrick Ahearn Architect

May 1, 2020

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.

Patrick Ahearn continues to mentor his team, build his brand, and engage his audience during the COVID-19 crisis.

Home is going to be more important than ever before. How do we keep consumers engaged now?
I think it is important to keep our audience informed and engaged. We are posting updates on our approach and projects daily on Instagram and weekly on our blog.

How are you communicating with your in-house teams and outside vendors?
We use GoToMeeting every other day with our entire team as a broad view. Then I have one-on-one meetings with everyone individually to go over the minutia details on every project. I am finding this approach, in some ways, actually works better because I am less distracted by the activity in the office. This communication method allows me to be the mentor that, at this point in my career, I feel, is the best way I can contribute to the brand.

How will you be defining success in three months, six months, a year?
So far, we have been able to adapt, but these are uncertain and unprecedented times.

Is there something you implemented at your firm in 2008 that worked that you are executing again?
I continued to build the brand. In 2008, we were in the world of print ads, and even though we were in the middle of a financial crisis, I didn’t cancel or cut back on marketing. I continued to put our projects in the public realm. Our name and our brand were in the media. And people recognized that. Just by implication, people assumed that we were continuing to be successful, which turned out to be true.

How are you thinking about cash flow management differently now than in more normal times?
I am much more cognizant of “cash is king.” I am looking at ways to defer payments on things (if it’s appropriate) or renegotiating contractual relationships with vendors and suppliers. In a way, that is how we are being approached as well.

Are there different cost-saving strategies you are leaning on regarding staff, overhead, and discretionary spending?
Certainly, we’re looking into areas where we don’t have to spend the extra money. Regarding staff, I’m not anticipating making any adjustments or savings. In fact, we have applied for the new government programs that will help support small businesses in these more challenging times.

How do you ensure your “all of a sudden” remote workforce remains motivated and productive?
I continue to be the coach and the motivator. I am working from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and I have a 300-yard commute. I am in constant contact with every person on my team multiple times a day, whether it be through video conferencing, phone calls, or emails. I have an iPad and Apple Pencil, which allows me to quickly red-line drawings and instantly send them back, so there is no lag time with review. It has been working out much better than I had anticipated.


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