A Year Of Change At Chesterton House
Our business has adapted this year in a way that we never could have anticipated. Whilst working remotely for our clients has been a big change, behind closed doors the shift in policies and procedures has been most felt by our team. Here's how this year has been for them.
Since March this year, the world has been battling a serious pandemic, the seriousness of which hasn't been seen for generations. Countries have been forced to close their borders, work, travel, and education have been disrupted, with daily lives altering practically overnight.
We can no longer work or socialise with the ease and comfort that we're used to, and businesses, including us, have been forced to evolve by thinking of new ways to stay open and stay safe.
Under the Chesterton House umbrella are three companies providing Financial Planning, Accounting, and Legal Advice, with a team of 65 people across three buildings. This year we've kept the business running as usual, but behind the doors, we've had to completely change how we work. The majority of our staff now work from home, with a handful on furlough and some working as key workers in our offices. Here are their experiences of working this year and how they're feeling about the future.
Sue Whitby | Receptionist
Sue is usually at the heart of the business as a main point of contact for clients but has been furloughed since the 1st of April.
"I was shocked initially because I didn't know what furlough meant, but when I read about it I understood why the business needed to do it."
Over the year Sue has kept busy by helping out family members with child care, finding joy in baking, walking her dogs, and looking after her horse.
"The pandemic has caused me to be anxious because I have had respiratory issues in the past, but I've learned to live with it and keep myself busy. I'm not the sort of person to sit at home twiddling my thumbs. You just have to find things to keep you occupied because otherwise, you'll get cabin fever."
Sue usually works as part of a close-knit team on reception and was due to come back in November, but has since been furloughed again due to the rising cases of coronavirus.
"I was disappointed not to come back, I miss working with people and I like to be useful. It's been nice to have some time off but I like working. I'm looking forward to coming back and being part of the team again."
Nadine Moran | Administration Manager & Health and Safety Officer
Nadine is the Administration Manager and Health and Safety Officer, and has been mainly working from home since March apart from when she is needed for essential work at the offices. Due to her role, Nadine often speaks with team members across the business and manages two teams.
"During the pandemic, my mood can be different day to day. Some days people feel good and some days they don't. Having catch-ups with my teams has been great because we can get honest with each other about how we're feeling and uplift each other."
As the Health and Safety Officer, part of Nadine's role has evolved to keep on top of the changing restrictions, as well as ensuring the company policies remain compliant and keep both staff and clients safe.
"Everything used to just tick along smoothly but now because of the pandemic, I put so much time and effort into researching and making sure that we're taking the risk seriously and protecting our team."
During the year Nadine has kept busy outside of work by going on long walks and enjoying being out with nature.
"I understand that everyone feels tired of the pandemic now, but I'm feeling positive about the future. I think everyone hits a low point in their life and you have to have hope that things will get better. For me getting out, walking and running has been really important."
Nadine has enjoyed working from home and being able to work flexibly in order to be there for her kids, but she's looking forward to having a balance between working at home and at the office again.
Joanne Sworder | Solicitor and Head of Property
Joanne is the Head of Property and a Solicitor at Woolley, Beardsleys and Bosworth. She has been a key worker splitting her time between the office and working from home.
"It's been a challenging time for me, both personally and professionally. It's during these times that you realise how much your private life and worries about yours and your family's health do impact on work.
"I've been anxious about being out and about but I've found the support at work to be really positive."
Joanne works alongside other keyworkers and was relieved by the regulations put in place in order to feel safe working in the office.
"A really positive thing is that the business has been really clear on not only how we'll get through this but also how to come out of it in a really good way. Knowing exactly how the office would be used and by who has helped us feel safe to be here and it's been a big mental boost to be around other people."
Inga Grosu | Accounting Executive
Inga is part of the team at Chesterton House Accounting Services. She has been working from home this year apart from essential client meetings.
"This year has been tough for me for various reasons. Work has been extremely busy and we've had to continuously keep on top of the changing government regulations and advise our clients on the support they can get.
"I've also lost a family member during this time and I've become the main earner at home as my partner's business has struggled during the pandemic."
Inga has felt very affected both in her personal and professional life and has found the pandemic to be overwhelming at times. She has adapted to working from home but it's been a difficult transition.
"Before lockdown, I was quite an active person; I used to get 45 mins of exercise every day walking to work, be able to go shopping, see my friends or go for a swim. Not being able to do these things has affected me a lot."
She has combated these feelings by working with a holistic coach, exercising at home & starting a new felting hobby. Now Inga feels more positive about the future and feels like she's learned a lot.
"I think the pandemic is around for a while but eventually things will settle. Things won't be the same and things have changed a lot for me, but I believe we will adapt to this new reality as this is in our nature as humans to adapt, to evolve. People have learned many lessons from the pandemic, including myself – appreciating more what you have, show more love towards people, help each other more & learn new things."
This year has been challenging for all of our teams and we're proud to see how everyone has adapted in order to continue to do the work that we do. We're looking forward to the future where it will be safe to work together again and see our clients, but we're also learning from the experience of working remotely and how that will adapt the business moving forward. Giving great service to our clients is the glue that holds everyone together, and across the whole organisation our team members have risen to the challenge. There's no doubt we will emerge stronger, and we're grateful to every single person for their commitment and hard work during this exceptional year.
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