Six months after the start of the pandemic, we are delighted that all members of our Events Team are now back and busy preparing to start hosting conferences and meetings for up to 30 people – in accordance with the very latest government guidelines.
Whilst the welcome is as warm as ever, inevitably given the ‘new normal’ some things are different and the team has been working hard to implement new processes and procedures that will ensure everyone is safe and comfortable as they navigate the College.
We’ve undertaken risk assessments across all operational areas of the College and produced detailed Back To Work protocols, ensuring all procedures are communicated clearly in line with the latest government and Meeting Industry Association (MIA) guidance.
We have designed a one-way system with social distancing throughout the College. Fortunately our Brutalist-style buildings are light and airy with long corridors, wide doorways and a feeling of space so it hasn’t been as difficult as it might have been at older venues.
The current maximum of 30 delegates and the need for social distancing will mean a change to the way we deliver events but we do have a number of factors in our favour – airy buildings, ‘walk on the grass’ gardens, 11 large flat-floored meeting rooms (which we are proposing to segment to facilitate social distancing) and also on-site parking.
We’re also implementing enhanced hygiene measures and ways to deliver catering that avoid buffet-style service.
Whilst one of our two self-contained conference centres, Buckingham House, will be used for student supervisions this term, the Kaetsu Centre is available for events. In many ways this is a great place in which to hold meetings in the current circumstances, with an easy one-way system, plenty of open space, two staircases and single toilets.
Safe and secure
Our hard work in making the College COVID secure, has been rewarded with achieving the MIA ‘AIM Secure’ and Visit Britain “Good to Go” accreditations which give reassurance to our clients and visitors that we are committed to their safety.
Specifically, AIM Secure means we have achieved recognition and endorsement from the UK’s leading trade association for business, meetings and events, as a venue able to deliver first-class service, excellent facilities and a total commitment to upholding legal compliance and health and hygiene protocols. Good to Go is a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to reassure customers that our business adheres to government and public health guidance.
Returning to work
In terms of the Events Team, everyone is made fully aware of College guidance on COVID-19 in advance of their return, with a questionnaire to complete and review with their line manager as part of an ongoing dialogue. Regular discussions are being held on official government and MIA guidance about reopening for smaller external events, with brainstorming around how we can pivot the business to capitalise on opportunities.
On a practical level we are operating a schedule to mix working from home and in-office working which helps maintain social distancing but still allows everyone to keep up to speed with what is happening. We are also monitoring the cleaning and ventilation of our offices to ensure all members of the team are happy and confident about coming into work.
Above all we are enthusiastic to be back and focusing on getting events up and running as soon as guidelines permit. Over the last six months, everything has changed for everybody – but we hope that, with care and consideration, we can all enjoy meetings and events once again, even if they are smaller numbers for the time being.