I feel the need to outline publicly we’re not able to be 100% confident that our buildings are going to be covid-19 free 100% of the time (Fact checked by me). So we removed our 1 month notice period (up until the end of June 2020) to allow people to freely stay / go wherever they feel safe being.
Alongside members whose small businesses are struggling we’ve also obviously had a really difficult time, like so many businesses we hadn’t planned for this level of “change” and I imagine they’ll introduce “clusterfuck scenario planning” to the many pointless business studies degree syllabus.
We’ll be reducing the number of buildings we occupy, essentially consolidating with the businesses who’ve hopefully survived (this is currently guess work) and then re-evaluating again over the next few weeks. We’re are trying to negotiate a rent free period with our landlords, this is key to our survival, it’ll at least help towards offsetting the significant losses we have encountered during this period, this is vital to seeing us through the next 6 months. We like most small businesses are dependant on cash flow, and we’re doing our best in what are challenging circumstances.
One of our biggest other outgoings are business rates, to Westminster City Council specifically we owe c£10,500 per month, this isn’t part of the governments support programme, and having chatted with the business rates team at Westminster this is still going to be needed to be paid (they’ve decided not to chase too hard for the time being).
We will do our best to get through this period, we started with nothing and we know how to survive, we’re lean.
Covid19 and our spaces
I’ve assessed the buildings and the processes we can put in place to manage COVID-19 within the premises… and given any invisible virus I can’t say that I can manage the risk, outside of a secure lab environment I don’t think any building actually can. So each member needs to take responsibility for their own safety and risk assess it for their own needs and safety.
What I will do… is provide every member who wants one with a pack of hand wipes, a mask, and hand sanitiser, as a “starter pack”. (Let’s be clear the mask will be basic and not PPE / WHO compliant, as I believe in not using resources that front-line workers need more than we need). Let me know and we’ll order for you.
Collectively we need to assess our own individual risks eg do I get on the tube, do I go to the supermarket, do I ride a horse, do I swim in the sea… if you don’t think somewhere or an activity is safe then that is a personal decision / assessment of that risk.
Whilst in the buildings:
We’d recommend you wear a mask
We recommend you wash your hands frequently
We recommend you wipe down surfaces/items before using them
We recommend you wash your hands or use sanitiser after using items / touching anything
We recommend you try and follow social distancing guidelines where possible (there are likely to be many times when this won’t be possible in our buildings eg as you pass someone in a corridor / enter or exit the building / walk in or out of the toilets / even sitting at your desk as we’re not able to distance the desks.
We recommend you inform any guests or visitors of this information.
We can’t enforce the above as I’m not your guardian, employer or dictator in chief, however we do recommend that members follow the recommendations. So you need to factor into your risk assessment that some people might not follow our recommendations, they might have even been in their car to visit a castle.
Even if you follow all the recommendations and guidance you might still get ill.
IMPORTANT: If you’re vulnerable, care for a vulnerable person, or plan on interacting with a vulnerable person then please don’t use our buildings.
If you need your kit from the office let me know and we’ll get it to your doorstep, you’ll need to clean / quarantine it based on whatever the government are suggesting, this guidance may change, it might even be edited retrospectively a year later in a blog post.
Obviously if you get any of the known symptoms please self isolate at home, don’t come into the office, if you need something from the office we can get it to your doorstep.
If the government’s “track and trace” programme asks you to please self isolate at home, don’t come into the office, if you need something from the office we can get it to your doorstep.
Unless your doorstep is more than a bike ride away… I’m happy to do 15 miles each way 🙂 if its further than that try and organise a friend, partner, ex-lover, or train your dog to collect it.
I know this won’t meet everyone’s requirements, I am sorry for this, but this is as far as our business model allows us to go (we’re not even covering the costs of our business rates bills we have to pay right now… this isn’t a great time for any business, we’ll hopefully all continue operating but it won’t be easy).
What I’m going to do is waive the 1 month notice period (for anyone who gives us notice at any point from now until the end of June 2020) for anyone who doesn’t wish to use our spaces anymore due to any risk or safety concerns they have.
I love you all but I’m not able protect you 100% of the time.
I know this will feel as though I’m passing the buck (maybe a job in government is calling), but it’s the only way we can do this. It won’t be for everyone, but its not always possible to please everyone all of the time, just be nice to everyone along the way. You need to do what is right for you based on your decision making.
Please don’t join us if this isn’t suitable for your requirements.