20 July 2020

600 home proud offices for Houthoff during coronavirus crisis

We went from five offices to over 600 home offices. Fortunately the transition of the past months went smoothly for us. Our people are resourceful and quickly adapted to the new situation, but it wasn’t all fun. We all really missed the dynamics of working in our offices and being surrounded by colleagues. Our clients are dealing with the same issues of course, and that’s why we recently organized a digital client event for them in cooperation with our friends at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. But as great as it is to have all the digital tools to our disposal that make is possible to continue with our work, we’re thrilled to be able to work with a small contingent of colleagues at our offices again, of course under strict conditions.

Our people are doing well, I’m glad to say, and Houthoff overall is too. We’ve continued to work with tremendous energy to keep up the same level of service to our clients as before the coronavirus crisis and I’m very proud that our people pulled that off so well in these challenging times. Even when one of our managing partners, Gerhard Gispen, passed away very unexpectedly during this time, our organization proved it could stay strong despite how deeply we are grieving his loss.

The biggest change has been the lack of face-to-face contact. Not only has everyone been working from home, we haven’t seen our clients as we ordinarily would. Also, we organize lots of events for clients and students throughout the year that all had to be cancelled, of course. We had to quickly come up with creative online solutions to maintain the same standard of legal services. That was vital in view of the rapid pace of changes our clients were facing too, also legally, raising questions about insurances, employment law and how to interpret the evolving government rules, to name just a few. And that was all on top of our “regular” work that also had to be done.

I don’t know what the future holds unfortunately. What’s certain is that a lot will remain uncertain and that we just have to accept that for the foreseeable future everything that seemed normal will to some extent be abnormal. More tangibly I’m afraid many will feel the pain, but at the same time I think we’re fortunate that the Netherlands has a very strong foundation. The forecast for our country is therefore not as grim as for some countries around us.

Without discounting all the suffering everyone sees, I do believe in the old adage “never waste a good crisis”. Besides the concern of survival, this is also a time to reflect, regroup and change what needs to be changed. Sadly, it’s from hardship that we learn what is truly valuable to us.

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