The staff at Fetcham Park House are welcoming back clients and planning events, despite all the uncertainties of the post-Covid world. House manager Kate Ainsworth explains.
The doors at Fetcham Park are open once again and welcoming our clients back. As lockdown eases, and with safety measures in place, life has returned to the House which has been adapted for working under the ‘new normal’ conditions.
In line with the government’s announcement on March 23rd, we formally advised clients to work from home first thing the following day on March 24th. Some of our clients had already made the decision earlier the previous week, while the rest collected equipment and some even borrowed their ergonomic desk chairs to help maintain proper postural support whilst working from home.
We put a skeleton team in place to monitor the interior and exterior of the building. Our clients have 24/7 access and we knew some would need to access their server, collect documents, complete work in progress or use the high-speed broadband for international video-conferencing. Internal and external touch points were thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis to ensure the safety of anyone accessing the House.
While the offices remained quiet, some daily activities, like basic garden maintenance and routine health and safety checks, continued. The entire building and grounds were monitored for accidental damage and external contractors visited to complete essential work. In due course, and as guidance from the government evolved, we were able to implement a thorough risk assessment tailored to the complexities of a historic building. Following an external audit, we shared the new policies and procedures with clients on May 28th and requested records of their own company’s risk assessment. This encouraged some to invite staff back to the office, depending on their role, personal circumstances and ability to work from home.
There is currently a cross section of clients using the House, not all daily nor back to full capacity, but we are interacting with them and our neighbours too. We are now carefully planning client meetings and workshops over the coming months in line with social distancing rules. Like all venues, until we know the revised meeting guidelines hinted at for October 1st 2020, we have to judge each meeting, event, and wedding ceremony individually. We have three magnificent ground floor rooms that can be used in different ways with the ability to accommodate a small wedding ceremony within the current guidelines, or a distanced meeting or lunch depending on the client expectations. We also have glorious, private grounds to complement these rooms for plenty of space and fresh air.
Ability to adapt
For many, coming back to the office is a welcome respite after months of working from home. According to a recent report in The Times, a survey of 3,000 workers found that 58 per cent missed office life. People aged 35 and under showed the strongest desire to return, at 65 per cent. Human interaction and socialising with colleagues were the most missed elements of the office, at 44 per cent, followed by collective face-to-face debate at 29 per cent.
The opportunities for companionship, collaboration, creativity, and confidence in the working space, appear to be the driving force behind the desire to return after weeks of working in isolation. Under the new safety guidelines outlined by the government, we have been busy behind the scenes creating an environment in which to support our clients to do just that.
One of the many strengths of Fetcham Park is its chameleon ability to adapt to business needs. The House has the added benefit of large, spacious offices and meeting rooms all with opening windows to maximise air flow. A new one-way system facilitates ease of movement around the property
offers extensive connectivity within the peaceful surroundings of the lawns and
on the terrace, where there is plenty of seating for clients. Inside, HD
screens and video conferencing platforms in meeting rooms can be configured to
suit individual needs.
If there’s one thing recent times have shown us, it’s that life can be unpredictable. The essence of serviced offices requires an ability to adapt and change with the times, and the needs of the clients. Our flexible, short term licences and affordable desk rates are ideally suited to anyone looking to return to a professional and safe working environment after many months of home working.
We are so happy to see the House come alive again. Our neighbours and local suppliers have been very supportive and it is great to be back working together. Thanks to the FRA for keeping us linked to the local community, and a very big thank you to Mole Valley District Council for their understanding and prompt support of our SME occupiers. Via the government relief grant, we’ve been working together with the councillors and officers at Mole Valley District Council, who promptly went the extra mile, and helped to ease cash flow problems for some of our clients.