Starting a Job in Lockdown: UBC’s Christine Anderson Shares Her Experiences

Starting a Job in Lockdown: Christine Anderson Shares Her Experiences

The first day of a new job is an exciting yet daunting experience.

For Christine Anderson, her very first day as Centre Manager at UBC’s Forward House also happened to coincide with the UK entering emergency lockdown.

So what is it like to start a new job under these strange and unprecedented circumstances?

“I’ve spent the past 30 years working in hospitality, which is always busy with lots of people on-the-go,” says Chris. “I was really excited about starting at UBC - but it was quite bizarre when my first week was spent almost entirely at home!”

On Monday 23rd March 2020, Chris had just enough time to meet a small number of clients and take a tour of Forward House Business Centre in Henley-in-Arden. That evening, the country entered emergency lockdown and the entire UBC team - along with most of the country - began working remotely.

“We didn’t have time for a full induction. I just went home that evening with a mobile phone and a folder full of everything I needed to know.”

The next day, all of UBC’s Centre Managers - Chris included - had to adapt and start managing their workspaces remotely. Throughout the lockdown, all of UBC’s centres remained open to clients who needed access for essential business. Every client has their own secure keyless access, which meant that apart from visiting the centre once per week to sort and redistribute mail, Centre Managers were able to work from home.

For Chris, her first week involved lots of training sessions over the phone with UBC’s management team. She handled calls on behalf of virtual office clients, and for those clients who requested mail forwarding, she visited the centre for a few hours each week to frank and redistribute the mail.

“It’s very important that we keep these services running. Some of our clients have essential businesses so we need to keep taking their calls and forwarding post to them.”

Business Grants and Applications

Chris also helped clients access small business grants. “We worked out who was eligible, and helped them through the process. Some of our clients didn’t know they could claim so they were really happy when we offered to help them apply. Nearly everybody received the grants they applied for too, which was a big relief for them.”

Now that restrictions are beginning to lift, Chris is also receiving more enquiries for serviced office space. It’s apparent that businesses are keen to get out of their home offices and into a flexible work environment as soon as possible.

In readiness for people coming back to the office, UBC has been carefully planning a safe return to work and is now in the final stages of implementing new health and safety measures. This includes the installation of hand sanitisers around each business centre, signage indicating social distancing procedures, one-way systems around the building, and extra cleaning, among others.

Chris is also keen to get back to the office and is looking forward to getting stuck into her new job - albeit two months later than planned!

“On the days I go into the centre, I love it! Some clients are beginning to come back to the office now so I’m finally able to meet them.”

Further ahead, when the situation allows, Chris is looking forward to re-introducing business events at Forward House. “I’m keen to get Henley Hub going again along with more networking events, possibly breakfast meetups and open evenings.

“I ran a lot of networking events during my hospitality years and I love being around people. For me, I think UBC is the perfect fit. I’m really excited to finally start my new job!”