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Positive change through adversity: Stories from PKF International’s people

21 May 2020

We spoke to Luciana Pestana, HR partner at PKF International member firm PKF Brazil. 

Despite working in the hustle and bustle of Rio, for Luciana Pestana, the people of her accounting firm PKF Brazil, and the broader business and civilian communities, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions have come as a complete shock.

“We were so surprised, we never imagined something like this would reach us in Brazil,” says Luciana.

“We don’t have the same technologies in business as companies in the US or Europe. Our firm is traditional, offering payroll tax and other business solutions.”

Luciana points (metaphorically) to the cloud as an example. Businesses in Brazil are a bit insecure of taking on new tech, and PKF Brazil, like many other Brazilian organisations, uses in-office servers to store data and run systems, rather than ‘in the cloud’.

As such, lockdown has meant the firm and its people have had to adapt.

“Once we saw the remote working policy being pushed through, we knew we had to change. Our people now have two computers – one at home and one in the office.”

But flexible working, or working from home, has had little take-up in the past. The firm bought some time by having staff take vacation time. “Despite being on the back burner for years, we created and implemented a remote working policy in a matter of weeks.”

Other tough decisions have been made around their people, and Luciana has seen the firm work less with some clients – but a lot more with others. Facetiming, Skype calls and Zoom conferences are now commonplace.

“We’re finding solutions to problems every day. There are other ways of working with our clients.”

For a gregarious and close-knit community of people, Luciana saw there was something missing, initially, from the virtual communications.

“At the beginning we felt far away from each other, but we increased the calls, started having lunch together online, and making the communication less structured – a lot of important communication is made informally.”

“We used to decorate desks for a birthday – now we create birthday pictures and share them online. It’s a simple solution but it shows a bit of your life.”

Decisions to build a resilient, modern and valuable practice are already being made.

“Working from home, and being more flexible, has made some of our people happy.”

 “I think we’ve already reached conclusions that we won’t need as much physical space as we have done; and we will invest in cloud technology!”



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