Navigating the Crisis | Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro on leading Northacre through COVID-19

“Trust, and the successes that come with it, has been highlighted during this period. Measuring a day’s work based on achievement, as opposed to being chained to a desk 9 – 5, has been made more apparent.”

Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro, the CEO of property developer Northacre – a company renowned for creating London’s most desirable luxury homes – discusses why the long-lasting business impacts of COVID-19 need not be negative – from going paperless to the unexpected benefits of remote working.

How are you navigating your business through the current COVID-19 crisis?

Luckily, we were prepared from the start, taking the early decision to transfer our workstream remotely. This gave us some time to test the waters, ensuring that everyone was set up at home to operate as smoothly as possible and maintain a near-normal sense of communication.

What has the situation taught you about leadership?

The value of communication and trust. Picking up the phone and talking through a challenge can make the world of difference. Trust, and the successes that come with it, has been highlighted during this period. Measuring a day’s work based on achievement, as opposed to being chained to a desk 9 – 5, has been made more apparent.

And what has it taught you about your business?

This period has truly highlighted the strength and capability of our team. Our continued perseverance has helped to propel momentum and keep productivity levels high. The team is focused, responsive and are thinking outside the box in order to change procedures which would not work in this new normal. We are reactive.

How are you – and the wider business – supporting your people?

We regularly host team catchups, which helps to maintain a sense of inclusivity and shared achievement. I have also made it a priority of mine to reach out to each individual team member and check in on them, both from a professional perspective and on a more personal level. We are also looking into ways that we can support the wider community during this time through volunteering opportunities. It must be said though, we are all missing being together in the office!

What do you see as the potential long-lasting changes to your business?

As a team, we have all adapted incredibly well to working remotely. I think we will be able to operate more flexibly in terms of time management when we do finally return to the office. The past two months have shown us that we can all operate effectively digitally, without a single piece of paper being used or document printed. We are now collectively working on a strategy to reduce our consumption when we do return, with the aim to eventually go paperless. This will not only be an internal operation, but we will also extend this promise externally as a future request when working with our consultants.

How are you, on a personal level, dealing with lockdown?

Keeping busy and feeling a sense of achievement daily, big or small, has been key for me. I’ve really taken to cooking, attempting to bring the sorely missed London restaurant scene to my plate at home. Of course, all this time in the kitchen means I am being disciplined with my daily exercise, and I’m lucky to have the river and beautiful park close by. Although of course I am missing family and look forward to seeing my children again soon.

To hear more from Niccolo – including why Northacre are members of Walpole – please click here to watch a short film courtesy of our friends at Luxury Marketing House.
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