Pandemic Accelerated Business Plans for Henley Entrepreneurs

Enterprising Couple Share Office Space to Grow their Businesses

Running a business can be challenging even in optimum conditions. Add a pandemic, multiple lockdown orders, and the challenge of home-schooling children, and you’ve got a rather testing environment in which to run your business.  That was the scenario facing Henley-in-Arden entrepreneurs Matt Evans and Faye Harris, who each runs their own consultancy business.

“We live in Henley, and with the very different world we live in now, it made sense to look at a local office,” said Matt, a data and business analyst who owns Evans Consultancy Services Limited.  We are usually on our clients’ premises for a large part of the week. But since COVID-19 a lot of our work, like many organisations, is now remote. It’s not ideal to be based at home.  We were always planning to have an office for our businesses, but COVID-19 accelerated our plans a little!"

Matt and Faye moved into an office at UBC’s Forward House, based on Henley High Street, which enabled them to keep their businesses moving forwards when it became too distracting to work from home.  Despite the challenges of the past year, Matt says that both businesses “have fared really well, all things considered” and has been lucky enough to stay working with numerous clients last year; from one client requiring Matt to work as a Data Analyst, where he specialises in Power BI (Microsoft tool for visualising company data) and developing dashboards to working within a large transformation programme as a Business Analyst identifying improved ways of working and better business processes. He also leads on the replacement of their old systems.  Matt says "if companies want to be more efficient and understand their business data, I’m their man!"

Faye, who owns Breeze Consulting Limited, a project management consultancy, has been managing her business while home-schooling her “less than enthusiastic teenage boys”. Now that schools have reopened, Faye is able to give more focus on her business -- and like Matt, the rest of the year looks jam-packed. “As my business is all about helping businesses manage change, 2020 proved to be a busy year! With the very welcome return to school I am now able to embark on a new change contract.”

 Most recently, Faye worked with a large chain of Funeral Directors to help them manage the huge impact the pandemic had on their business. Following this, she was commissioned by a global travel company to set up COVID-19 testing portal in a large corporate organisation in the US.  She is now finalising the particulars of a new contract for a Facilities Management organisation.

 “I am lucky to have a huge variety in my work as I can help businesses of all industries. As long as businesses are wanting to embark on some kind of change, from full operating model changes to discrete projects, such as changing their service offering, I can help.”

 Like all UK businesses, for both Matt and Faye, the option of travelling to client sites is still very limited, which is where their UBC office comes in.   In addition to using the office as a quiet place to work and focus, Forward House has onsite receptionists to help with calls and visitors, and spacious meeting rooms for video calls with clients (and in-person meetings, when restrictions allow).  

“For us the choice of administrative help and available meeting rooms was value-added compared to other offices that we considered,” said Matt. “Also, we liked the feel of UBC -- it’s professional and extremely friendly.”

 Location was also an important benefit for Matt and Faye. Forward House is close to their home, which is always advantageous but particularly during the pandemic. Over the past year, UBC has been approached by many businesses seeking flexible office space in regional, out-of-town locations, which enables a safer environment for staff.

 Longer term, post-pandemic, it is expected that businesses will continue to reap the benefits of satellite offices, which reduces the cost and time burden of commuting and enables workers to enjoy greater flexibility and work/life balance.