Cotton Court Business Centre

Author: Amy Blundell

Cotton Court Features in Lancashire Business View

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If you haven’t already picked up a copy, check out the latest edition of Lancashire Business View . Robert takes centre stage, discussing all things entrepreneurship in The Big Interview.

Amy also talks about the importance of a good first impression for a start-up business, and how this has changed in the new ‘online world’.

Plus we spotted plenty of other familiar faces in the magazine, discussing everything from funding to the future of workplaces!

The magazine is available to read online
https://www.lancashirebusinessview.co.uk/read-lbv94-online

Cotton Court welcomes Create Theatre Academy!

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We are looking forward to hosting Create Theatre Academy as they welcome back their students!

Who are Create Theatre?

Create Theatre Academy offers a unique training experience of the highest quality taught by industry professionals. Their mission at Create Theatre is to nurture talent and enhance performance skills with innovation and imagination. 

Create aim to build a strong foundation for their students so that they can succeed in reaching their full potential. They take pride in building student confidence, encouraging growth and creating a safe space for students to develop their skills in Musical Theatre and Acting. Create Theatre Academy are a triple threat school focussing on allthree disciplines, Acting, Singing and Dance, ensuring they bring to their students a wide range of knowledge in all areas of the industry.

Founded by Rebecca Eastham, Wesley Bromley and Alex May Roberts, who as a team of all working actors and creatives in the industry can provide a fresh and contemporary approach to our training, They pride themselves on being an inclusive and engaging place for individuals to embrace their own unique talents and skills.

Email : createtheatreacademy@gmail.com

Meet the team :

Wesley Bromley –

Wesley graduated from The Urdang Academy London with a distinction in Professional Musical Theatre and Dance. Wesley is currently working as a senior rehearsal director/ choreographer for talent artistic group/ tui sensatori international. 

 

 

Rebecca Eastham- 

Rebecca trained at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre London in Musical Theatre (BA Hons) as well as working as a professional actress. Rebecca has taught drama and musical theatre ( including lamda exams) in various schools across the North West.

 

 

Alex May Roberts –

Alex May Robertr trained at the University of Central Lancashire and graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre (BA Hons). She is currently working as a drama tutor and is a highly skilled vocal coach. Alex is a professional musical theatre performer and is represented by a top London agent. 

 

Luke Massie, CEO of VibePay: “We’ve got a good chance of taking market share away from PayPal”

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Former Cotton Court resident, Luke Massie, spoke to Altfi about VibePay’s chances of taking on payment giants like PayPal and how the business coped under lockdown.

Luke launched VibeTickets from the coworking space at Cotton Court in 2013, and since then he has expanded his original ticket resale platform to create VibePay, an API-driven payment processing app that simplifies subscription and checkout processes for its customers.

Like for many other companies, Luke admits that lockdown was “extremely stressful.”

However, like many other fintechs, VibePay  experienced an increase in website traffic during lockdown as more and more people were forced to shop online. This made VibePay reassess their business objectives and bring their B2B product further forward.

Massie says that a lot of VibePay’s small business customers are people selling via their social media channels, seeing a big spike in what he calls ‘social commerce’

Read more from the interview and what is coming up for VibePay in the next few months here. 

Yolo Wellbeing – Escape to the Beach Meditation

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Meditation can be a really effective way of de-stressing and calming anxiety and negative thoughts; but it can be quite hard to master on your own. We use visual aided meditation videos as an effect part of the YOLO Wellbeing , but we have created a series of ‘Escape to….’ short guided meditation videos that you can access at anytime to provide a few minutes away from work to quieten your mind and de-stress.

Escape to the Beach video, focuses on a place where most of us feel happy and relaxed. The meditation videos are a really effective way of guiding you through your meditation. You can access the full series here.

 

10 Socially Distanced Meeting Must-Haves

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Planning and organising a conference or meeting requires a great amount of forethought and consideration at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic, and people that are responsible for organising meetings and training sessions have a number of further considerations to make in order to ensure that their delegates feel safe. 

  1. Thermal scanning is becoming a must-have layer of security for people attending meetings and events. Thermal scanners alert venue staff if someone has an elevated temperature on arrival, giving an indication of Covid symptoms and won’t be admitted to the premises. Not having this capability will add an element of risk for attendees.
  2. A spacious room with plenty of ventilation will help delegates feel more comfortable and at ease. As well as your office boardrooms, you’ll need to bear in mind that venues will also have reduced room capacities; a room that could have once held up to 25-30 delegates now might only be able to accommodate 10 people or fewer at a safe social distance.
  3. Blended training…..do you want to offer an online option? Some of the people you’d really like to attend may not be able to due to local restrictions or personal circumstances. Choosing a venue that has a strong technical offering can really open up your options. Think tracking cameras, strong internet connection, HD screens and Zoom capabilities.
  4. Risk assessments are a must have for any meeting and events planner. A venue should have a risk assessment specifically for Covid-19, outlining the potential risks and their intended precautions. You should request this from the venue prior to the event. 
  5. Look out for the Visit England GoodToGo industry standard and consumer mark, which provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for businesses and visitors that clear processes are in place in the venue.  
  6. Consider your catering…..are the venue able to provide individually packaged lunch and refreshments for your event? When there are fewer touch points in service areas your delegates will feel more confident. 
  7. How will visitor traffic be managed? Make sure the venue has something in place for managing visitor traffic, such as a one way system, particularly for larger meetings. 
  8. Keep your delegates informed. Venues are likely to be operating stricter visitor policies and people may be required to leave their personal details on arrival for test and trace records, the waiting areas may also have restrictions.
  9. Provide attendees with travel information. Letting them know about onsite or nearby parking, and any changes to public transport will be particularly helpful during this time. 
  10. Get some feedback. What did the delegates like about the event, are there any improvements you can make next time. You want delegates to be happy to return to meetings and training, and feeling safe is key, so it’s always a good idea to follow up to see how they found the experience.

Whilst the specific requirements of your meeting and industry will dictate how you plan your event and the factors you need to consider, the nine factors we’ve discussed here are a good place to start. Don’t get stressed about your event, follow a clear process and don’t be afraid to lean on your venue for support or advice.

We pride ourselves on the level of customer service we provide here at Cotton Court, and regularly help our customers and prospective customers in the planning phase of their meeting or event. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you need some friendly advice around planning your next meeting.

 

The Future of Training

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Technology has transformed the training industry, courtesy of advances in machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. Corporate training practices are embracing the power of technology now more than ever before, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this article, we will highlight the perks of both online and face-to-face training—along with the best way to make the most of both practices.

Online Training is Important

As the name suggests, online training involves the transfer of knowledge through the internet to target audiences anywhere in the globe. Experts in a particular field or subject train workers with the help of digital resources—including video tutorials, Word documents, virtual assessments, and PDFs.

In an organisation, online training may be an ongoing process whereby employees get to continually brush up on new workplace technologies and concepts. In such cases, online training may offer some advantages over face-to-face training:

  • Greater Convenience: Users can train from anywhere in the world as long as they have a reliable internet connection. Information (e.g., training videos, notes, and support) is readily accessible facilitating a faster learning experience.
  • Cost-Effective: Sure, online training may demand a high initial investment—owing to the purchase of laptops, internet subscriptions, and enrolment. But in the long-run, it’s a cheaper option than face-to-face training.
  • Game Elements: Gamification has been shown to improve knowledge retention and user engagement. With online training, you can seamlessly incorporate game elements.

Face-to-Face Training is Still Relevant

The advantages of online training and the importance of technology cannot be denied! However, there is one factor that is more fundamental…humans as inherently social beings. We constantly crave human interaction and connections—even in a world characterised by telecommunication. Personal interactions help develop meaningful relationships—making it the best way to communicate and learn.

When it comes to training, face-to-face training offers a crucial learning experience that cannot be achieved through online training. Here are some of the benefits of physical human interaction:

  • Dynamic Personal Relationship: Not all workplace skills can be taught online. Some demand a hands-on experience in a real-world setting. In certain scenarios, interacting directly with the tutor can prove to be more fulfilling than online training.
  • Clear and Elaborate: In virtual training, there’s always the risk of misinterpretation and miscommunication. Sometimes it’s hard to properly convey emotions through email or chat. Physical human interaction allows both the instructor and the trainee to better read tones, mannerisms, and body language.
  • Networking Opportunities: Face-to-face interactions facilitate richer networking relationships—and the building of stronger interpersonal bonds.
  • Memorable Experiences: Trainees can retain information and learn skills more effectively in a face-to-face setting. It’s easier to maintain attention—and the instructor can easily spot trainees who are drifting off or struggling.
  • Engagement and Feedback : Online training doesn’t lend itself nearly as well to training/discussions which rely on delegate engagement and feedback. Ideas may be stifled as delegates seem less willing to speak up and participate in online meetings.

Leveraging the Best of Both Worlds – Blended Training

Online training is convenient, but it’s not a substitute for face-to-face human interaction. For this reason, organisations can improve the quality and effectiveness of their training methods by retaining face-to-face meeting and embracing online training.

Blended training is a method of learning whereby instructor-led training is seamlessly combined with web-based technology—hence improving the outcome. Rather than stress over replacing one method with the other, blended training leverages the best of both worlds.

At Cotton Court, we added a tracking camera to our training suites so that trainers can present naturally to both a face-to-face group, and also stream the training to an online audience.

Digital Touch – Lockdown Reconnecting us With Our Photographic Histories

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We caught up with Jilly Jackson of Digital Touch and she discussed how their photo editing and retouching services have seen a surge in popularity as people are reconnecting with their photographic histories, during the lock down. 

Many people have used the period to remind themselves what is really important in their lives, and photographs are one of the best conduits we have to the past. Digital Touch feel that this is due to nostalgic social media photo challenges, the gaining popularity of sorting through old photo albums, and people reminding themselves that what’s gone before will come again. 

Read their blog about it here.

Cotton Court Residents Pull Together to Deliver First Ever Online Preston Caribbean Carnival

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Cotton Court residents UK Media and Events and Fusion Software Consulting are helping the Caribbean Carnival organisers deliver the first ever online Caribbean Carnival!

The popular event returns in 2020, despite the current COVID-19 pandemic. The usual music, dancing and atmosphere of the Carnival will be missing from the streets of Preston for the first time in 46 years.

But the organisational committee, UK Media and Events and Fusion Software Consulting have been working hard behind the scenes to hold the festival’s first ever online Carnival instead.

In the inclusive nature of the Carnival they want everyone to take part and it couldn’t be easier to get involved!

1) Visit www.prestoncarnival.co.uk

2) Upload videos, photos or a message to the website that you’d like to be included as part of the online event. Remember, the image or video the organisers feel best represents the spirit of carnival will win an iPad.

3) Put your party clothes & headdress on, fire up the barbecue, make your cocktails and enjoy the Carnival online music and videos with your favourite tipple.

One of the Carnival organisers, Tracey Harris, says “This is definitely a carnival like no other, but it is important to maintain the continuity and have a different type of event that the community can still get involved with, we aim to bring the feel of Carnival into people’s homes and garden”

Sponsor, Bradley Lincoln from FYC said “As we prepare to launch our new hair care range, we felt that being part of one of the oldest cultural events in the UK was the place to start”

Danny Bee, Director of UK Media and Events said “We were excited to be selected to produce this project; it’s the first of a kind for us but it will definitely not be the last in this new normal”

 

Reimagining the Future of Workspaces – Flexibility Takes Centre Stage

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As the world evolves, so must workspaces. Technological advancements have revolutionised the business landscape at an unprecedented rate; from e-commerce to automation. In the workplace, this translates to increased flexibility and mobility in the way we work.

To improve workplace productivity and motivate employees, businesses must adopt office practices that complement the ongoing trend in the labor market; flexibility and mobility.

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”

Winston Churchill,

A growing number of organisations are realising the importance of flexible workspaces. Startups, SMEs, and Fortune 500 companies are embracing the changing tides in the industry. But what are the benefits of flexible workspaces? What do businesses stand to gain from flexible serviced offices.

What Exactly is a Flexible Workspace?

A flexible workspace is basically a fully-serviced office that requires little-to-no set-up costs, and minimal time to set up. It offers the features of a conventional office, but without the hassle of designing, set up, and long term leases.

The idea of flexible workspaces is rooted in the concept of co-working. Co-working spaces offer a centralised shared area, surrounded by small or large private offices. The shared area typically houses various amenities, lounges, and conference rooms. This gives employees flexibility and mobility throughout the day.

What are the Benefits of a Flexible/Collaborative Workspace?

Regardless of your company size, flexible workspaces offer value to both the employees and the business.

  1. Agility

Market expectations and consumer habits are constantly evolving. As priorities shift, organisations must align their workforce to correspond to the changes. This fast-moving world demands a certain level of agility; which is offered by flexible workspaces.

One of the main benefits of a serviced office is the flexibility offered with contracts and leases. Businesses no longer need to be tied to a fixed lease,meaning they can enjoy greater flexibility as market conditions change. For example, a company can deployer a project team closer to a target market for a short period and relocate immediately after finishing the project.

  1. Cost-Saving

Flexible workspaces significantly improve the bottom line by allowing businesses to cut costs. Businesses only pay for what they need now, on a month-by-month basis, rather than what they may need two years down the line.

For example, if you’re setting up a regional office and you have around 10 employees, renting a long-term full-floor office would result in unnecessary costs and wasted space. But if those employees were placed in a flexible workspace, they would still enjoy the perks of dedicated office space, minus the costs of a traditional model.

  1. Foster Connection and Interaction

In an increasingly virtual world, characterised by improved connectivity and remote working; does working from an office still offer benefits? Or is working from home the new normal?

The truth of the matter is that people who thought working from home would be great are now recognising that the office plays an important role. An article appearing in the Harvard Business Review notes that “face-to-face interactions are by far the most important activity in an office.”

Employers also have to consider the needs and preferences of employees

  1. Employees Comfort and Motivation

Flexible workspaces are designed for activity-based working that aligns to the employees’ working style. This gives employees greater flexibility over how and where they work thereby increasing their productivity, work quality, and satisfaction. According to a study by Herman Miller, worker comfort affects operational efficiency by increasing job satisfaction, retention, productivity, and well-being.

  1. Improved Scalability

Looking to expand your business? Planning to build a team in a test market before entry? Serviced offices allow you to scale, regardless of your company size. Setting up an office is fast and moving in is easy, especially since operational tasks are catered for.

Takeaway

Flexible offices offer a ton of benefits that can improve the bottom line, while fostering employee satisfaction. Businesses no longer need the kind of real estate they once did, and can therefore reduce costs.

In other words, flexible workspaces are the future! In an increasingly dynamic and fast-paced world, businesses need to adopt practices, policies, and office designs that align with the changing times.

DON’T LET HOME WORKING BE A PAIN IN THE NECK!

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We caught up with Cheryle Britton, Founder of Yolo Wellbeing, who has recently launched the MSK Zoom Consultations to help employers support and manage the health of their home workers.  For as little as £5 per employee she will review their existing work arrangements and provide tips on how it can be adjusted to improve posture. She will also run through mobilisation and breathing exercises that will help ease tension in the joints and muscles.

If you are working from home you may have noticed more aches and pains than usual. Maybe your neck is stiff, or you’ve noticed your shoulders ache more; or possibly you’re experiencing pain in your lower back?

A new survey has found that a third of people working from home are experiencing musculoskeletal injuries as a result of poor posture from hunching over laptops and not having dedicated work stations set up at home.

Last year, the ONS Labour Force survey of 2018-19 found that over 6.9million working days were lost due to musculoskeletal disorders. Evidence gathered by the Labour Force Survey, over a ten year period, suggests that poor posture caused by makeshift work stations at home, will directly affect posture and the musculoskeletal health of home workers; which may result in long term absence.

What is Poor Posture, how do you avoid it?

Poor posture is caused by the joints, muscles and vertebrae being in stressful positions for prolonged periods; which results in a build up of pressure on tissues, causing tension, aches and pains.

The ideal posture is to be at right angles. Back straight, Thighs at a right angle to your body, knees at a right angle to your thighs. Wrists straight and forearms at a right angle to your biceps. Your monitor needs to be at a reasonable height so you don’t have to physically bend your neck to view your screen.

You can adjust your position using a combination of books and cushions to help raise your feet, seat or monitor, But if this doesn’t feel comfortable for you try a few of our top tips to prevent tension from creeping into your joints and muscles. 

TOP TIPS TO HELP PREVENT MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURIES

Wherever you are seated try and keep your back as straight as possible, and your monitor high enough so as you’re not bending your neck to view your screen,

Take regular breaks – getting up and changing your posture at regular intervals will alleviate the pressure on your joints, muscles and vertebrae. A 5min break after every 25mins of work is good for your health and your productivity,

Stretch. When your joints are immobile for prolonged periods of time you get a build up of Fascia, the connective tissue that wraps around your muscles; which causes tightness  and tension, and can lead to aches and pains. 

By mobilising and stretching your joints: wrists, elbows, shoulders, waist, back, knees and ankles you help to clear the excess fascia, to relieve tension and make the movement of your joints feel freer.

Poor posture can also affect your breathing, try this simple breathing exercise to help correct your posture, relax and energise you.

Sit up straight and take in a deep breath, in through your nose. As you’re breathing in imagine the air going to the very top of your head. This will lengthen your neck, and your shoulders will drop. When you can take in no more air, hold it for a second or two.

Then exhale slowly through the mouth. Let your shoulders relax, but keep sitting up straight. Keep blowing until all the air is expelled from your lungs. Normally we shallow breathe which means we hold a lot of stagnant air in the bottom of our lungs. This exercise helps to remove it,  

Take in another deep breath, in through your nose. This breathe should be deeper as you’ll be able to take in more, fresh air. Again imagine it filling up your body to the very top of your head. Hold, breathe it all out.

Do this 3-4 times. Then notice how much calmer and more relaxed you feel. The fresh air in your lungs will help you feel more energised and focused, ready to return to work.

Cheryle held a series of wellbeing days here at Cotton Court, where our clients enjoyed the a well deserved treatment and break from work, and we are looking forward to booking another day in soon when Covid restrictions are lifted.  Yolo Wellbeing use our business phone system, which has helped Cheryle whilst remote working and keeping in touch with her clients about new services.

ABOUT YOLO WELLBEING

YOLO Wellbeing helps employers improve the physical and mental wellness of their employees; through a combination of massage and meditation; delivered in a customised, mobile, environment that has been created to intensify the feelings of calm and relaxation.

The service has been designed to be easy to implement, requiring minimum resource and minimum disruption to your business. All appointments are pre-booked via a secure online site; the YOLO Wellbeing environment is brought to your business premises; and employees only require 20minutes away from their desk to receive the treatment.

Whilst social distancing is in place to restrict the spread of Coronavirus, the YOLO Wellbeing service is suspended. However, we’re here to help provide support, information and tools you need to help keep you and your staff healthy whilst furloughed or working from home.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you please contact us or follow us on social media on the details below:

Cheryle Britton: cbritton@yolowellbeing.co.uk

01772 283139

www.yolowellbeing.co.uk

@YOLOWellbeing (Linkedin/Facebook/Instagram/ YouTube)