Workplaces able to pivot easily with little notice despite COVID surge

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Megan and Trent Salch have learned to adjust.

Instead of commuting to their retail office space, they now commute upstairs to their home office where they run their marketing and design company.

The couple continues to learn how to shift their business in the days of COVID-19.

"What we found is that our clients were doing it," Megan Salch told ABC13. "Our partners were doing it. Everyone was working from home."

They find their clients are navigating the uptick in cases too. This time, they're more prepared to shift as conditions warrant and flexibility is the name of the game.

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"The dynamic has changed a bit for our clients in that they're getting creative about how to deliver their product or their service," Megan said.

The couple has found their clients are more nimble too.

"They were preparing as we started to see [the delta variant] spread overseas," Trent said. "They knew it was eventually going to come here, and for the most part, they were pretty well prepared."

Meanwhile, the Houston West Chamber of Commerce continues to help its members navigate everything from closures and mandates to the new environment where each business seems to make choices for itself.

"The word 'pivot' was the word of the year, and everybody did," President Kari Werner. "If they didn't, they didn't make it. Right now, everything seems to be coming back. Our businesses have been reopening and I'm not seeing COVID as of this point affecting the businesses as it first did when COVID hit in 2020."

There is no doubt that these are unprecedented times for businesses, but companies, both large and small, seem better prepared to pivot now and adjust with a moment's notice.

Dick Helmey's sign printing business has adapted. It's different now from the early days of the pandemic.

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"We wore masks, we're socially distant, and tried to deal with people remotely as much as possible," said Helmey.

All of his employees are vaccinated now, and when it comes to face masks, Helmey said it's a personal choice.

"Our philosophy has always been, we want to do what's comfortable for our clients [and] our employees," he said. "It seems to be more of whatever you're comfortable with."

There are no state mandates for businesses in Texas, there is only guidance.

While some businesses may be rethinking their plans in light of the delta variant, the Houston West Chamber of Commerce hasn't seen much of that.

The group's own offices have controlled access, but they continue to help its 700-member businesses stay ahead of the curve.

"I'm not seeing much of a change, though some of these businesses are asking people to wear masks," Werner said. "If anything, the last 18 months have proven that surviving businesses have figured out how to pivot quickly. Something all the more important as the trends regarding COVID look less favorable than they did two months ago."

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Houston restaurant owners open up about their struggle to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what lies ahead in this ABC13 town hall, moderated by Eyewitness News reporters Chaz Miller and Pooja Lodhia.



For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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