Cotton Court Business Centre


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.

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.


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.

Exciting News From Preston Partnership

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Update from Preston Partnership

Have a year on us
For the financial year 2020/21 Preston Partnership  won’t be charging membership fees to be a member. This is to support businesses who have faced unprecedented challenges and to reflect that we’ve been unable to host any face to face meetings. Sign up here. 

Shaping the future of the city

Preston’s future is bright. As towns and cities around the country work to find a path to recovery from the impact of coronavirus it’s vital that businesses and organisation come together to breathe new life into the city centre.

Preston Partnership are hosting a FREE webinar at 2pm on Monday 15th June with an update from Preston’s Towns Fund Board on development in the city.

This is your chance to learn more about work going on to bring fresh investment to the city and have your say on how this money should be spent.

Please register for a free ticket to be given information on how to log onto the event.

Welcoming you back to the city

As you may know from next week more of the city centre is opening up for business. Organisations and businesses from every sector including the Council and Preston BID are working hard to ensure this is as safe as possible for everybody.

Keep an eye on their social media accounts for more information on what’s being done to keep everyone safe as we welcome you back to the city.

Covid 19 – Support for Lancashire Businesses

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In the current situation, there is loads of useful advice and help available for Lancashire businesses as they feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We wanted to share some of the great initiatives and information around, to help businesses choose the help that is right for them.

Boost Business Support – Boost have created a dedicated #BoostYourRecovery service to support businesses during the pandemic, and plan their recovery. The initiative is available for all Lancashire businesses and is led by Lancashire County Council. There is also an online Recovery Hub with resilience guides, access to Government updates and partner advice as well information about webinars, virtual drop-in sessions and other support.

North Lancs Chamber of Commerce – NWLCC have created a Coronavirus Toolkit where businesses can find a host of resources, including free training, legal information and templates, Government guidance and health & safety.

Federation of Small Businesses – FSB offer Covid information and support for small businesses including tips, articles, templates and info about available support.

Preston City Council – Preston Council have provided advice for specific business sectors and the guidelines and legislation around these sectors. This is also where businesses can apply for some of the Government Support grants.





Fully Funded Training Available for Lancashire Businesses – Skills Support for the Workforce

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Cotton Court residents Growth Company are delivering the Skills Support for the Workforce programme across Lancashire. It is a fully-funded programme designed to help employers bridge skills gaps in their organisation through bespoke training. Businesses can access a range of accredited and non-accredited programmes to help them upskill their staff – helping employees to progress in their careers. Skills Support for the Workforce aims to enhance staff productivity, increase morale and improve staff retention in organisations across the county. A range of remote delivery options have also been added to the programmes.

If you are looking to gain qualifications to enhance your skillset or you are looking to re-train for a specific role, Growth Company have a range of remote learning programmes available for you to start now. The programmes are designed to help increase your job prospects, enhance skills and improve your performance.

What types of programmes are available?

Customer service
Education and training
Health and social care
IT and Digital
Team leading

For more information click here. 


UK Media and Events Launch Sanitise Events!

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Cotton Court Client, UK Media and Events, have launched Sanitise Events to assist with getting you back to work safely!

The nature of their business, like so many, is radically changing. Over the years, they have provided Event POS along with the production of many amazing events, extremely efficiently and cost effectively for our corporate and public sector clients. They are now in the process of repositioning what they do to be more accessible to clients who aren’t simply ‘Event’ customers.

As the UK unites in the fight against Coronavirus and protecting the NHS, UKMAE have used their capabilities to produce products specifically designed to help keep your staff and customers safe; whether you are a continuing business or looking to re-open your business following the lockdown.

They are following closely all Government guidelines and advice, and on this basis, intend adding products daily that will assist businesses to get back up and running safely and efficiently, helping to instil confidence in staff and customers alike. With their products, you can both protect and inform about the safety measures you are taking on your premises.

You can visit their online shop here.

The shop holds ‘stock’ designed items that can be dispatched for next day delivery, and also produce custom branded products quickly on request.

Here are just some of the products coming to the website soon but available on request now, and all can be custom branded

Posters (Standard and Weatherproof)

Strutt Cards (desk/reception stand up information/warning cards)

Welcome Mats

Correx Bollard wraps/covers

Queuing systems

Various signage solutions produced on Dibond (aluminium composite sheet), Foamex, Correx.

Branding walls

Pavement signs

Various sanitiser dispensers (indoor and outdoor)

And much more…


For larger organisations they can provide discounts on quantity, a free survey and a fitting service if required.



Cotton Court Hosts Combined Authorities and Devolution Event

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On Wednesday 26th February, we hosted the Downtown in Business Leader’s Lunch with Geoff Driver CBE, Leader of Lancashire County Council and welcomed some prominent business figures from across Lancashire.

Cllr Driver and Frank McKenna discussed a variety of issues, and centred around Combined Authorities and devolution and the need for councils within Lancashire to work together to overcome challenges that the devolution agenda may bring.

The County Council has a £1.5 billion expenditure each year, Cllr Driver also discussed a key challenge for the region is developing the economy and it is down to the local business leaders to help to drive that agenda forward. Since the current leaders came into power 4 years ago, the £200 million deficit has reduced.

As well as the Combined Authority, Cllr Driver also discussed Lancashire’s role in the Northern Powerhouse. He also shared candidly his thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics during a Q&A session with the audience.

Downtown CEO, Frank McKenna said; “It was great to hear Geoff Driver today talking about an issue that has dominated the discussion for a number of years in Lancashire. It finally appears that progress is being made.

“I would like to thank Geoff for taking the time to be with us today and for today’s audience for making today’s event an incredibly interesting and thoughtful discussion. There were some fantastic comments and contributions from some of the leading business personalities in the region.”





Cotton Court Supports Preston Partnership

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We are proud to be a member of Preston Partnership, an independent partnership of businesses and organisations that are passionate about and committed to the city.

Preston Partnership is made up of organisations of all sizes, and across many industries with a common goal to champion the city of Preston and surrounding areas.

The partnership was created to bring together all these organisations, to bring commitment, energy and dialogue from all sides.

What is Preston Partnership?

– Members from the public, private and third sector connected to Preston joining together to establish a dialogue.

– An opportunity for businesses to actively engage in supporting the growth and development of Preston.
– A powerful network that is kept up to date about what is happening in Preston.
– A group who collaborate on projects to influence the development of Preston through ideas, involvement and resource.

Visit their website for more information or to sign up.


Tamsin has finished her apprenticeship!

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I’ve recently finished a 12 month Business Administration Level 3 course at Cotton Court that I did through Runshaw College. The apprenticeship and coursework covered areas such as customer service, rights and responsibilities, providing administration services and understanding business environment.

I’m so pleased that I was able to complete this at Cotton Court. It’s a great place to work and everyone is like family. Having a close relationship with my colleagues and the customers makes all the difference.

Now I’ve completed my apprenticeship, I’m keen to get in to focus on the customer services, business development and marketing of the business as I love dealing with customers and I get great satisfaction when I see a customer happy with the service!

I would definitely recommend apprenticeships to other school leavers and  young people. If you lack confidence and feel like you need an extra boost to help you along your path then apprenticeships are definitely for you. I learnt so much through doing mine and am fortunate enough to be able continue to develop my career at Cotton Court!