Feedback: July 2020

by Clarence McAllister, Charlene Tarver, Oye Waddell

Question: COVID-19 has brought to the fore a new concern about the future of office space. As stay-at-home mandates are lifted, how will your company approach its space needs?

Clarence McAllister 

Founder and CEO
Fortis
Sector: Construction

Before COVID-19, we were considering selling our building and moving to a smaller office. We have since accelerated those plans. 

We are now making it optional for our office staff to come to the office. Our field teams are spread out on projects across the country. We have daily huddles to check out the status of the projects and to maintain camaraderie among our teams.   

Clarence McAllister is the founder and CEO of Fortis, an engineering and construction firm established in Phoenix since 2000. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Arizona State University and an MBA from Nova Southeastern. He is also a licensed Professional Engineer and is a member of the Arizona Board of Technical Registration.

Charlene Tarver

Founder and Executive Director, The Women’s Economic Institute, Inc
Convener, Black AZ COVID-19 Task Force
Sector: Business Development

COVID-19 re-prioritized how minority, women-owned companies do business — everything from marketing and inventory to packaging, distribution and staff development looks different in this new virtual environment. Minority businesses must re-evaluate how to stretch their dollars and whether bricks and mortar warrant higher fiscal priority over advertising and technology. 

Home-based and virtual offices are much more advisable right now, given the volatility of the economy and unpredictability of the virus. Small businesses with minimal foot traffic should absolutely consider streamlining their operations and can utilize Zoom and Google platforms to refine their brand, increase their domestic market share, and develop innovative ways to grow new global markets.

According to American Express, the U.S. is home to more than 4 million African American and Latina woman-owned firms. These businesses have grown 35–50 percent over the last five years and are on the uptick, so this is a great time for minority woman-owned companies to lean in — trim their overhead and enhance their digital brand. This is also an excellent opportunity to streamline back-office operations through online course offerings (marketing, finance or technology) at the Maricopa Community Colleges. Welcome to the new norm!  

Charlene Tarver is founder of the Women’s Economic Institute, Inc (“The WEI”), a Phoenix-based Think Tank. The WEI is committed to closing the wealth gap for minority women entrepreneurs through policy, technical assistance and economic development. 

Oye Waddell

Founder and CEO
Hustle PHX
Sector: Nonprofit

At Hustle PHX, we understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has both on our employees and on the entrepreneurs we work with. Although stay-at-home orders have already been lifted, our company will continue to allow our employees to work from home until we feel it is safe to be in the office environment again. These times required some adaptation, but we made the necessary changes and most of our business can be done virtually as of now.

Meanwhile, we will allow employees to go to the office to meet in exceptional circumstances. In those situations, we will require participants to use a face mask, provide hand sanitizer, and organize seat configuration respecting the six feet social distance. We also advise all employees who feel unwell or sick to inform us immediately so we can proactively take that into consideration before scheduling any meetings. In regard to office reconfiguration, we will closely follow the specific guidelines recommended by the state and implement them in a timely manner.  

Oye Waddell is the founder of Hustle PHX, a nonprofit organization that exists to equip and catalyze underserved entrepreneurs with the intellectual, social and financial capital they need to create sustainable business ventures for the common good. Fueled by his visionary style of  leadership and the belief that all people have dignity, Waddell knows that some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the United States are in underserved, urban communities.

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