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Lockdown life: our staff during a global pandemic

Lockdown life: our staff during a global pandemic
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Lockdown life: our staff during a global pandemic
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

As the UK endures its third month of lockdown amid COVID-19 restrictions, some of our staff have been reflecting on what life in lockdown has looked like for them and their advice on maintaining some sort of normality during these uncertain times. Both the personal and professional lives of our business accommodation staff has radically altered during the pandemic, but their adaptability within both of these areas has enabled them to take some positives away from the situation.    

Appreciating the small things in life

Leanne, the Deputy Centre Manager of the Croydon office, has found that lockdown has given her a new outlook on life: ‘Lockdown has made me appreciate things I had taken for granted before, little things like grabbing a coffee with my mum or a shopping trip early on a Saturday morning. It has also made me appreciate technology, both for helping me keep in contact family and friends, plus enabling us to continue doing our jobs and connecting with each other.’

Similarly, Hayley, the Business Support Coordinator at Milton Keynes, has been enjoying aspects of life that she previously overlooked, despite missing loved ones and the office atmosphere: ‘I have rediscovered a love of baking that I have not had time to do for so long.  During these difficult times I have tried to focus on the positives, like the joy of seeing so many small birds in our garden and the amazing weather we have been experiencing.’

The personal repercussions of COVID-19

Like so many businesses and families, our staff have felt the real implications that the pandemic can have. This was the case for the Waterhouse Business Centre Business Support Coordinator Mandy, whose Dad unfortunately contracted the virus: ‘During the first week of lockdown, my father tested positive for Covid-19 pneumonia.  It was an extremely worrying time as he was very poorly.  I made the trip to London before his diagnosis and was called upon to pick him up from St Mary’s Hospital. Due to my father’s swab test results, I could not return home for two weeks.  This in itself was very upsetting as I could not return home to my family and pets.  During this time, I found inner strength which I never knew I had. I certainly found a lot of things out about myself and realised I can actually do anything I put my mind to! Thankfully, the outcome was a happy one for my family and I certainly feel that I am one of the fortunate ones!’. Mandy also added that she ‘felt ecstatic when I got the telephone call from Sharon asking me to return to work.  It certainly has been a rollercoaster of emotions.’

Community spirit at home and within the business

The UK’s sense of community has been highlighted by COVID-19, and our staff have been keen to get involved. Helen, the Business Support Coordinator at St George’s Business park Sittingbourne explains how volunteering has helped to give her lockdown life structure: ‘We call it Groundhog Day.  A routine has helped; Peter’s email and daily joke in the morning. Walk the dog. Government update at 4.30pm every day. And I’ve been volunteering for three vulnerable families: shopping and collecting medicines and then shopping for a family in isolation with COVID-19.’

Many of our staff have also commented that the pandemic has reaffirmed the community atmosphere within the company. Managing Director, Peter Boam, was keen to keep staff updated throughout the whole process, sending daily updates to ease the anxieties that many held about the future. Sharon, the Centre Manager at Waterhouse Business Centre in Chelmsford, explained how these updates helped her: I didn’t know how we at Capital Space would cope – were our jobs safe? Would centres have to close?  Peter sent updates every day and I really looked forward to reading them, sometimes just for re-assurance that we were OK.’

Making our business accommodation centres safe to return to work

Currently, a lot of staff work revolves around making our offices, studios and workshops, as well as our communal areas, safe for social distancing, enabling businesses to return to work and back to some form of normality. ‘At the centre we have been working hard to put things in place for a return to work. The measures we are putting in are making us feel safer and even starting to feel quite normal.  What has really impressed me is the positive feedback and appreciation we have had from our customers; the sense of community has never been more apparent,’ commented Lorraine, the Centre Manager at Harlow’s Greenway Business Centre.

The pandemic has also highlighted a sense of pride for Managing Director, Peter, who noted that this is his fourth financial crisis but that it has been his ‘most enjoyable’. Central to this has been the attitude of the staff within the centres and their ability to adapt and innovate: ‘Our team now numbers 50, with two new members joining on June 1st.  Throughout the crisis, we have maintained contact with our customers and done our best to accommodate their requirements. Individuals have done remarkable work. I am immensely appreciative and at the same time very proud of the business that we all, working together, have created.’

Despite the uncertainty and upheaval caused by the pandemic, the staff at Capital Space have been able to take some positives away from the situation: from gaining a new appreciation for the simple tasks in life – such as, gardening, cleaning or baking – to embracing the community spirit by volunteering for the vulnerable groups in society. The need to innovate to make our offices suitable for businesses to return to work has also helped to create normality and structure within the mayhem prevalent within the world at present.      

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