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A year on from opening their doors to non-creative businesses, Connect Derby’s Friar Gate Studios and Sadler Bridge Studios have let half of their available space to businesses from across the supply chain to the non-creative sectors.
The Studios welcomed non-creative businesses for the first time in winter 2020 after being given the green light from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) to let up to 30% of their space to tenants from across the creative industries supply chain in a bid to further promote entrepreneurship within the city.
Since then, and despite the challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic, non-creative businesses across a range of sectors have taken a total of 3,570 sq. ft of space at the studios on Ford Street and Bold Lane in Derby city centre.
Professional service companies including accountants and financial services firms have joined HR professionals and education and training businesses to set up home at the studios, which have established themselves as the hub of the city’s creative industries.
Businesses taking advantage of the rule change include growth expert Neale Lewis Associates and chartered financial planners, Aristotle Financial Planning, Create Finance and Compact Training, who have all taken workspace at Friar Gate Studios.
Sadler Bridge Studios has welcomed digital training providers Althaus, along with Abbot Risk Consulting, Switch My Business, Revival Finance Ltd and JMK Wealth Management Limited
Since the Connect Derby workspaces reopened after lockdown one in March 2020, tenants have seen the introduction of new ways of working to ensure safe working practices, including social distancing, a new one-way system, Perspex screen shields and mobile hand sanitiser units.
In June 2020, Connect Derby was the first building in Derby to open following a COVID-19 risk assessment carried out by Derby City Council. The Council’s Health & Safety team awarded the managed workspace a score of 92% and a rating of ‘Outstanding.’
Commenting on joining the Connect Derby family, James Wallis from Aristotle Financial Planning, said:
“Since we joined Connect Derby last spring, the business has gone from strength and strength and has attracted a number of new clients.
“Although it’s been a challenging year, the Connect Derby team have been on hand to offer help and support and keep us updated on the availability of any grants and loans we may be entitled to.”
Speaking about the increase in tenants from the non-creative sector, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:
“Despite the challenges faced by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, the decision to relax the eligibility criteria at Friar Gate Studios and Sadler Bridge Studios has proved extremely successful, with a diverse range of business relocating to our workspaces.
“Our tenants benefit from high specification workspaces, flexible lease terms and have the ability to upsize and downsize at buildings across our portfolio, plus a Covid secure working environment, which was given an ‘Outstanding’ rating by Derby City Council.
“I look forward to welcoming more businesses from the supply chain to the non-creative sector and providing them with the support they need for their businesses to thrive.”
The results of Connect Derby’s 2021 business community survey have been published – and the statistics underline just how much our team has supported tenants during the pandemic.
The annual survey measures the levels of service Connect Derby provides across all areas – from the quality of its workspaces, IT facilities to security, and most significantly over the past 12 months, the safety of its seven managed workspaces.
This year, the survey focused heavily on how 200 plus tenants have been supported during the various lockdowns, local and national restrictions and the safety measures put in place to make all buildings Covid-secure.
Connect Derby received a 91% response rate, up from 83% in 2020, from the 206 businesses across the seven diverse buildings in its portfolio – Friar Gate Studios, Kings Chambers, Sadler Bridge Studios, Marble Hall, Riverside Chambers, Shot Tower and the iHub innovation centre on Infinity Park.
96% of respondents said Connect Derby workspaces were clean, safe, and secure buildings to work in, up 10% from 2020. Connect Derby was the first Derby City Council service to be allowed to reopen following lockdown one in March 2020, achieving ‘Outstanding’ with a score of 92% after a risk assessment carried out by the Council’s health and safety policy group.
New ways of working were introduced, and a series of safety measures put in place. A bespoke COVID-19 induction programme was devised and implemented across all buildings. Connect Derby also successfully maintained its ISO9001 accreditation.
96% of tenants said Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations, with 93% saying they would recommend Connect Derby to other businesses looking for managed workspace in the city, an increase of 2% from last year.
Despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, 90% of respondents said Connect Derby meets or exceeds their expectations for the support it provides.
94% of tenants reported that communications from the management team met or exceeded their expectations. Throughout the various lockdowns, the team-maintained communication with tenants to provide support and guidance, including assisting them with applications for grants and loans, addressing queries and helping them stay open for business. Connect Derby staff also regularly checked on the health and wellbeing of tenants.
92% of businesses said the IT network, internet access and Wi-Fi services meets or exceeds their expectations, which was particularly valuable to companies who needed to communicate with staff who were working from home.
13% of converted enquiries came from outside of the city, promoting inward investment, with a 44% increase in retaining tenants when their requirements for space changed by rehousing them elsewhere in Connect Derby’s portfolio.
Commenting on the survey results, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:
“In what has been an incredibly challenging year for our tenants, we are really pleased to have received such positive service ratings and I’d like to thank them for being honest in their assessment of our services.
“We’re committed to providing all our tenants with first-class levels of services and support and will continue to work with businesses to help with their recovery from the pandemic.
“There are always areas where we can improve, so we will be working with our suppliers and internal council services to make improvements where necessary,” added Ann.
Connect Derby has expanded its offering with the launch of new fully furnished Covid-secure office accommodation at Friar Gate Studios headquarters.
The building on Ford Street, has furnished nine of its offices, is available to rent on a short-term basis of up to six-months.
The move comes as a result of the changing working environment since the advent of the pandemic and the increasing demand from prospective tenants for a more flexible, short-term letting arrangement as they reassess the impact that Covid-19 has had on their business.
The introduction of furnished office accommodation provides flexibility for those businesses who may want to return to office premises after working from home while they consider their options – or new start-ups looking for a home for their business without the additional expenditure and effort of having to furnish it themselves.
The offices, which range in size from 282 sq. ft to 442 sq. ft, are equipped with desks, chairs, and storage units, along with phone lines, high-speed broadband, and sundry items, including tea and coffee making facilities and waste bins.
Some offices also have their own breakfast bar and bar stools, sofas, tub chairs, coffee tables, plants and artwork frames.
Tenants taking furnished offices at Friar Gate Studios can also take advantage of a range of other services and facilities, including an on-site café, business support and mentoring, plus the use of Covid secure meeting rooms.
When the initial six-month tenancy at Friar Gate Studios comes to an end, tenants will be given the opportunity to take a permanent office space at any Connect Derby workspaces across the city.
There has already been strong interest in the covid compliant furnished offices, with one office already let and several others currently in negotiations before formal marketing commenced.
Following a relaxation of rules at the beginning of 2020, Friar Gate Studios has become a hub for creative and non-creative businesses, with tenants ranging from VR animation and radio voiceover companies to financial planning and digital recruitment consultants.
Back in June 2020, Connect Derby was the first building in Derby to open following a robust COVID-19 risk assessment carried out by Derby City Council. The Council’s Health & Safety team awarded the managed workspace a score of 92% and a rating of ‘Outstanding.’
A range of safety measures have been put in place to ensure all Connect Derby buildings are Covid compliant. This includes the introduction of a one-way system, Perspex screens, extra hand-washing facilities, and social distancing signage.
Commenting on the launch of new furnished office accommodation at Friar Gate Studios, Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, said:
“Friar Gate Studios has been the hub for Derby’s thriving business sector for almost 14 years. We have created a wonderful working environment for tenants in the creative industries and most recently in the supply chain to the creative sector.
“By offering new Covid-secure furnished offices on a short-term basis, we hope we can encourage more people back into the city centre now lockdown restrictions are being lifted and support the Derby Economic Recovery Task Force in their bid to kick-start the city’s economy.
“We look forward to welcoming new businesses to Friar Gate Studios and providing them with the support they need to help their business flourish.”
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