End of year Reflections with Nigel Dean, Director of Roffey Park Services

December 1, 2022 10:35 am

Although 2023 is nearly upon us, it is worth reflecting on the rollercoaster of a ride that the last couple of years has been for everybody. It’s too easy to almost forget the lockdowns of 2020, the horrors of covid, the personal cost and the devastation to business, especially in our area of expertise – face-to-face training and hospitality.

To see Roffey Park Institute thriving with all its vibrancy, life and action to then see it close for the best part of 6 months was not only a shock for our business but a massive shock for our long-standing and loyal staff. All of them were supported by the UK government furlough scheme and Roffey Park Institute for over 18 months.

As we entered 2022 with great hopes of a final revival, we encountered another wave of covid, cancellations, deferments and staff absence and we again feared the worst. But come March and the venue burst back into life. It was as if all of our clients decided that enough was enough and the fightback had begun. People wanted to meet again, to plan to talk, to rebuild their own teams and their organisations and reengage with their clients. The venue filled up very quickly and we never looked back.

Lloyds TSB bespoke programme – individual group presenting

At first most of our team struggled to back get up to the pace of the ‘new normal’. We were like a football team that had only trained, not had any practice matches and were asked to return straight back into competitive action! You need to get back into a rhythm to be at your best at work and that takes time. To return to employing efficient processes and systems, checks and balances and providing quality and service takes time to feel natural. To do things by instinct and to work proactively and work together as a team.

When you are working normally you don’t notice these characteristics, they are just there. But when you are away from the game for so long you recognise that these qualities are what really make an organisation tick. The unseen, unnoticed niceties of human interactions. You can’t really train people in this. But one thing that covid has taught us is that the very human instincts that make an organisation work effectively need to be cherished and not taken for granted.

Out of the covid era have emerged some positives, for example, flexible working has become the norm for most people. We have embraced change and reset our business model in a fraction of the time it might have taken pre covid. Here at Roffey Park Institute, we have developed empty office space into a state-of-the-art innovation hub of fully serviced offices that are now filled with a vibrant community of small entrepreneurial businesses. We have become more open to change and resilient to the bumps in the road, I think a little more tolerant of each other and hopefully more aware of the tightrope between success and failure that we all tread every day.

We look forward to a brighter 2023. If you believe everything that you read in the news or see on the TV, you might be forgiven for fearing what the new year may bring. I am more optimistic. From what our clients have been telling me, they are busier than ever, they are cautiously optimistic and yes there may well be some tough times ahead but they are ready.

Participants enjoying lunch on a warm summers day

One thing for sure is that 2023 can’t be worse than the last couple of years. I can’t thank our clients and staff enough for helping to get us all through the long days of the covid era and we should never forget that it was our community spirit that has emerged in the darkest days of lockdown.

We thoroughly look forward to seeing you in 2023. We saw an abundance of face-to-face activity return to Roffey Park this year and have the utmost confidence that this won’t just maintain but increase within the next 12 months. Collaboration, connection and interpersonal relationships are at the heart of successful learning and as a learning and training venue, we encourage and practice this philosophy in every moment possible.

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year!

Nigel Dean

Note: Roffey Park Institute will be closed between Friday 23rd December 2022 and Tuesday 3rd January 2023.

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