In the Vietnam addition of our interactive webinar series, the CEO & Founder of AYP Group, Ms Annie Yap, and the managing partner of DN Legal, Ms Dao Nguyen will share about how they have successfully digitalized their businesses, transformed their business processes, supported their employees and sustained business continuity during the circuit breaker period while adapting to the changing business dynamics amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dao is the managing partner of DN Legal. She advises on all aspects of doing business in Vietnam. Her practice includes corporate and M&A, banking and finance, real estate, energy and infrastructure. She has acted for developers and the government of Vietnam on several landmark projects including the first licensed BOT project in Vietnam.
We took several actions with two main concerns in minds (that our team is taken care of financially and they are safe from COVID-19):
In terms of operation, we were already prepared at all times to work remotely:
As you know, Vietnam did a great job in COVID-19 prevention and went for 99 days without any cases and social distancing was lifted and it was back to normal until the last two week or so when new cases arose in Da Nang. HCMC has required bars and clubs to close but other businesses are opening as normal except that masks are required to be worn.
Our company direction and position has not changed. I actually think as a firm we are stronger having gone through the lock down in March for almost 5 weeks.
We continue to use Zoom and Slack. Other than that, our team wants to come back to the office and does not seem to have any issue coming back
They have reduced Corporate Income Tax by 30%
From my observation, it seems everyone actually prefers meeting via Zoom these days rather than in person. I think all of us are surprised at how well technologies for videoconferencing and other forms of digital collaboration were adopted. For us, it was seamless.
Other than training their staff on basic COVID safety measures, I am not sure if companies have redesigned their offices in VN yet.
I think whether one works from home or at the office, the key is communications so that everyone is clear on what work has to be done.
The physical meetings have been replaced by Zoom meetings but nothing else has changed in terms of communication.
For law firms, we measure productivity by time recording. So in that sense it is easy and in that regard WFH has not changed our productivity.
I actually think people work harder from home because sometimes you don’t take the usual breaks like going into someone’s office for a chat or going out for a coffee break with a colleague. So the challenge to to prevent fatigue from overworking from home rather than the other way around.
When we had to WFH, we had daily Zoom calls and everyone is asked to share how they are feeling that day or sometimes we share some personal experience. Thus, everyone is given a chance to speak and share.
I also took this chance to train the younger lawyers. During this time, the Government issued many directives and instructions and our team would translate and prepare legal updates in English to make sure everyone is aware of the latest developments. I had a chance to work directly with them on legal writing and other skills.
WFH is not sustainable if it is permanent as a certain amount of real life contact is still important. I certainly think a hybrid is possible as an option but most of our young team prefers to be in the office.
I think the ‘new’ normal is that traveling for work will not be seen as essential as before. COVID-19 has forced us to switch to virtual and most of the time it works very well.
I think we have to learn to learn to communicate in different ways and in person meetings may not be seen as essential any more in the same way as hopping on a plane to go to a meeting was before.
As I mentioned we have these measures in place already. We have a dedicated network and server and a dedicated IT manager to monitor data security.
I think our employees actually prefer to be in the office. I think given the fact that we are a people-based business, part of the training for young lawyers is learning on the job as therefore being in the office and learning is still the best where we can monitor and give them instant feedback and attention.
As I mentioned, the human connection is still the most important whether we work in the office or from home. Making sure that everyone is excited about work and is engaged is important. Technology makes that very easy. Ultimately, our employees have to feel safe and well taken care of and that we are all in this together. Thus, we work hard to preserve that by our actions. So far, we have not had to reduce salaries or let anyone go. In addition, we continue to monitor the situation in VN and the first sign of any risk we immediately communicate with our teams and prepare them for having to WFH again. We also provide masks and sanitizers to all employees at work. So I think the team feels that we are doing our best to keep the safe and look after them.
Safety. The safety of our clients and our teams is our first priority.
Making sure that we have as much cash as possible to prepare for any contingency and that means working hard to issue bills and collect payment so that we have at least 3-6 months reserves on hand.