Our response to the coronavirus: part 3

TL;DR We’re excited to be returning to the office three days a week from 1st September. Why? We’ve got several new joiners, the team loves spending time with each other and our founders (and it’s good for our mental health and wellbeing), and we want to do our bit to support local businesses in Clerkenwell.

Five months of full time WFH

The last five months have been an extremely busy period for us. We have:

The fact that we have been able to do all of this remotely — aside from a couple of face-to-face meetings in our office and parks around London — is awesome and a testament to how much technology has changed our lives.

Why the office is important to us

Despite the team’s fantastic achievements, we miss spending time together.

🤞 for a summer party in 2021

Every business will be different, but the main things we miss are:

  • The fun we have being around each other and our founders and the positive energy that generates — video calls don’t lend themselves to moments of spontaneity or levity like a physical space does
  • The impromptu conversations throughout the day when you pop out for coffee or lunch that build and cement relationships
  • Sharing ideas that pop into your mind as they happen — venture is a creative business and little ideas are often powerful but can get lost over Slack and don’t feel significant enough to schedule a call

It’s not that we can’t work remotely, it’s that we prefer to spend time together and we get more enjoyment and fulfillment from doing so.

Our hybrid approach

From 1st September, the team will be working in the office Monday to Wednesday and remotely on Thursday and Friday (assuming, of course, that there are no material changes to the infection rates or government guidance).

From a founder’s perspective, initial pitches and much of the early stages of discussions will still be via video calls, but we will certainly be doing more face-to-face meetings during the later stages of deals. Despite having done several fully remote investments, we still believe in the benefits of founders and investors spending time together to really get to know one another.

Becoming COVID-secure

Before we can return to the office, we need to make sure that our environment is COVID-secure.

To do this, we engaged Rob Walley and his team at Controlled Events who have become experts at helping building owners and managers ensure they comply with best practice to keep their staff and guests safe.

The first step was to review the building and make recommendations on how best to comply with the regulations.

Schematics were produced for each floor and, from those, an inventory was created of all the items that need to be purchased and installed before we can safely re-open.

Schematic for one of the floors at Warner Yard

Once all the items had been installed, it was then a case of briefing the team and providing support to our Office Manager, Elise, on how to make sure all the recommended measures are implemented on a day-to-day basis.

The New Normal at Warner Yard

The office is now ready to welcome back the team and guests next Tuesday.

In addition to circulating a more detailed guidance note to the team, that builds upon social distancing and proper hygiene measures, and installing signage throughout the building, there are a few main changes that will be visible to everybody coming to our office:

  • There will be a temperature check on arrival
  • To enable effective contact tracing, everybody will need to scan a QR code on arrival and when they leave the office for the day
  • The third floor is Playfair team only for the foreseeable future —don’t feel that we haven’t invited you upstairs for any other reason than safety!
  • All meetings with guests will be held on the ground floor

These measures will be kept under constant review as the situation evolves.

A final thought

Central London has been hard hit by the pandemic. Restaurants, bars, shops and other services that rely on footfall from office workers have seen their revenues collapse. By spending at least some time in the office from next week, we want to do our bit for our local community by starting to buy coffee, lunch and using local services as we did before Covid-19 hit. Our impact will be small, but we hope that many other businesses will soon follow.

You can follow the Playfair team on LinkedIn, Twitter, Forbes, Vimeo and here on Medium.



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