As the promise of 2022 looms on the horizon, most people are anxious to close the books on what is likely the most unsettling year — from the pandemic to politics to supply chain shortages — we will ever experience. Strong leadership has never been more essential than it is today. To share their best leadership practices, Az Business magazine sat down with Arizona business leaders to watch in 2022, including Korey Wilkes, principal  at Butler Design Group.

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Highlights of Korey  Wilkes interview

IMPACT OF PANDEMIC: “For Butler Design Group, we were already in a situation where we could go pretty mobile, so we were able to go remote pretty quickly. And frankly, we had one of our better years in 2020. There was a lot going on in the industrial sector, even though we don’t specialize on one specific sector, but three or four. Getting used to working remotely was probably the most difficult part because we’re very much of a culture that has a lot of interactions. So, getting up to speed on Zoom and that interaction was probably the biggest growing pain. So for us, from a standpoint of the market sector and what we were able to do, we’re able to stay quite busy during the pandemic.”

LESSONS LEARNED FROM PANDEMIC: “We learned that we’re more agile than maybe we even thought we were. We consider ourselves a fairly nimble and agile company from the standpoint of how we respond to our clients, to our contractors, to the cities, but realizing that we could adapt as well as we did to the pandemic and working from home let us grow in that responsibility matrix that you’re creating for your staff and people. We learned about being dependable and depending on others to get the job done, even when you’re not able to turn around and talk to the person at the desk next to you. So we found that we were able to modify how we approach things, and in some ways we are technically a little bit more efficient, coming back out of the pandemic.”

POST-PANDEMIC PLANS: “I think post-pandemic, you’re going to have more space per person, and you’re going to have fewer people working at the office five days a week. I think that’s going to be across the board. For Butler Design Group, it’s no different. I think we’ll see a lot more flexibility that we may not have considered pre-pandemic that we will embrace post-pandemic in regard to that flexibility for the employee.”

TREND TO WATCH: “On the industrial side, technology is going to rule. We’re seeing taller buildings with the standard now to start at 40-foot clear ceilings. We’re seeing with the industrial build-to-suits a drive to excel on the technology side, as well as on the sustainable side.”