Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic poses enormous challenges for many companies . David Nissen, Mueller CEO/President, provides a glimpse into how Mueller is handling the crisis.
Question 1: Hello Dave! Where are you right now?
I am sitting in the Elgin office. You might be wondering why? When the governor’s Stay-At-Home order was first enacted, our Partner Group decided to institute a mandatory work from home policy for our employees. Even though we are considered ‘essential’, we strive to put our employees first and we have all capabilities to effectively continue our work remotely. In order to keep the offices running smoothly, we created a skeleton crew of employees that still come into the office. I am one of the few employees on that skeleton crew, thus why I am in the office.
Question 2: We have now all experienced our first weeks from working at home. How has the experience been for you?
Having our employees working from home has been interesting, to say the least. The way I see it, business will never be the same. People are utilizing technology more than ever – we are all becoming more computer savvy! More recently, I have noticed people are picking up the phone and making calls more often. I thought the use of the telephone to make a call was a lost art.
Question 3: What do you feel the mood is like at Mueller?
I am impressed with how positive the mood has been here at Mueller and how well we all have come together as a team. Department heads have done a great job scheduling frequent huddle meetings to make sure we all stay as connected as possible. We have also seen some creative ideas emerging for virtual social events, such as virtual snack carts and even a virtual department talent show! Overall, I think employees are appreciative of the ability to stay home and stay safe.
Question 4: Our employees and customers would, of course, like to know where we currently stand as a company and what we should be prepared for. Can you give us your take in this regard?
There are a lot of different degrees of concern and nervousness surrounding the virus, and we are glad to have all the capabilities to continue our work effectively while being remote. We are utilizing technology such as video conferencing, file sharing platforms, webinars, and more to stay connected with our clients. In addition, we created a COVID-19 Response Team that has been working overtime to stay up-to-date with all rapidly changing legislations that would affect and/or benefit our clients.
Even though we have been able to continue our business to almost the full extent, Mueller has not been spared from the economic uncertainty. We have had to cancel many events, rework some of our processes, and implement new forms of technology. This is why staying connected with our employees and clients is crucial during this time. But, we are certain we will get through this and most importantly we will continue to be there for our clients with the quality they are used to.
Question 5: Mueller is a member of the PKF International network of affiliated CPA firms. What is the mood and situation like for the other firms internationally?
I am on the board of PKF International in which we have had multiple board meetings with our counterparts from all over the world. It seems we are all in the same situation in regards to working from home. The mood has been quite positive, as we are able to stay in contact using different forms of technology. We have really come together as a network of firms and are able to share and discuss the different ways we are all handling this situation. Ultimately, this helps us to provide the best possible solution.
Question 6: Does the COVID-19 crisis also present any opportunities for Mueller?
When the government first deemed accounting firms as ‘essential’, I did not quite understand. Once we got into the new legislative changes, I quickly came to the realization of why we are essential and how critical it is for us to help businesses stay up and running. The many legislative changes have provided quite a lot of opportunities for us as an accounting and financial firm. We have done a tremendous amount of work regarding the CARES Act, specifically the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for our clients. We strive to provide guidance in making the appropriate decisions for our clients in order to guide them through this crisis.
Question 7: Do you have any tips for working from home?
It is important to try and keep up with what your normal routine was before this situation occurred. For example, wake up at the same time you used to or end your day at a specific time. Working from home may allow for a more flexible schedule, but it is important to have structure to help get through this.