Interview with Bilge Baskan, Community Manager of Venture X, Chiswick Park
Venture X, a flexible workspace provider, became one of our first customers to install Sani Stations into their business, so we caught up with Bilge Baskan, Community Manager of Venture X to discuss how Covid-19 has affected their business.
What were your first thoughts when you went into lockdown?
I had a lot of questions, rather than thoughts to be honest with you. I had a lot of questions on my mind about the virus, restrictions in place and how to protect my health, as well as business related questions, how I can fulfil my role. I’m the Community Manager of Venture X, Chiswick Park, and my main responsibility is member engagement and member services to ensure customer satisfaction, so it is not the type of role to work from home. So, I was overwhelmed with it all to be honest.
How did you cope with that uncertainty?
As a team at Venture X UK and Ireland we have kept in touch throughout the entire process to support each other. We also kept communicating with our members throughout, updating them on what was happening from our end and they were reciprocating that so we understood their position too. After the first two weeks of everyone having to work from home and being full of question marks, it changed to a completely different atmosphere.
Covid-19 has an adverse effect directly on your business, with people told to work from home and stay away. How tough has it been on the business?
We opened our flagship office in Chiswick Business Park in November and within four months we were at 90% capacity. Our business has managed to be resilient in these times compared to many businesses and we have managed to retain a high level of occupancy. Having said that, we did lose a lot of other revenues, which require our members to be in the space. We used to have hot desking space, but no longer have been able to offer that service. We have transferred hot desking to dedicated desk areas, which we had to reduce our density to ensure each desk could be a minimum two metres apart from each other, which actually proved to be successful.
In the quiet times, we as a business have been making sure our space is ready and more importantly safe for our members to return. So, we made a lot of changes to ensure safety. We installed new furniture to increase the capacity of our phone booths, we implemented right of way policies in our corridors and limited the number of people allowed in our kitchens and meeting rooms at any one time. We also shipped our Human Scale ergonomic chairs to some of our members to help whilst they were working from home to look after their back. We also donated some ergonomic chairs to the NHS.
Our owners have been on site to make sure we continue providing the essential services to our members, like mail handling for example. They have implemented the right changes and procedures to the new way of working as per Government guidance.
How does it feel as an employee to have hands-on owners who are communicating efficiently, taking action and donating chairs to the NHS during this time?
It’s fantastic. These are very strange times and everyone needs to support each other. The members are delighted that we have helped their home office set up, and to donate to the NHS, who I have to say have been fantastic to make sure everyone’s health is of the paramount importance.
When did you first hear of Woodnet Lifestyles and their Sanitiser Stations?
At the end of April, our owner was catching up with the owner of Woodnet, as they both know each other through the Hounslow Chamber of Commerce. While they were catching up during the lockdown, he came to know that the Sanitiser Stations will be suitable for Venture X and we immediately made the purchase to have hand sanitiser stations in the building.
When you saw the Sanitiser Stations, what were your first thoughts?
The fact that they are touchless is really important. I’ve seen others in the past where you have to press a button to get the sanitiser out, which to me isn’t as safe. So, the fact it’s touchless and works effectively and also its sleek design looks so good in our workplace. We have invested a lot on the fit out and furniture at Venture X and we didn’t want to have something that looked out of place. We purchased two and placed them right by the entrance, and it looks so nice as soon as you walk in. It’s a great addition to what we have here.
How did you find the ordering process?
The team have been so helpful. From the early stage to delivering the product, they have continually been there to answer any questions we may have and support the items' implementation into the building. We received our order in just a few days and they have been here already to check that they are working efficiently too. The first impression from our members has been rewarding, everyone loves them. They are so grateful that we brought them in. We then decided to order a pro version (Sani Station Pro) with the gloves and face masks and placed it by our kitchen.
How do you like the Pro version?
The Pro version is so good! It has everything that you need. At the end of the day you get your facemask, you get your gloves as well, sanitise your hands too. And also, the design is so nice!
What does the future have in store for Venture X? Are you worried as a business post Covid-19 or are you excited for what’s to come?
We are really excited! Opening new locations! We’ll be announcing our second location soon which is quite exciting for us as Venture X UK & Ireland family and for our members who will be benefitting from having access to the new location as well and for the coworking industry which is growing fast. Most of all we are looking forward to welcoming our members back healthy and with smiles on their faces.
One last question, out of 10, what would you give the Sani Stations? ;-)