STANDING STRONG In these truly unprecedented times, weâ€™re with you every step of the way... TEAM BUILDING Plan ahead for sunnier times with our top tips and options for motivating and inspiring your staff WELLNESS How to balance your male and female energies, plus the results of the PA Life Wellness survey REMOTE WORKING How to stay focused whilst working from home, plus advice on organising your desk space PA PROFILE Aimee Browne is the Mindful Assistant. She tells us of her journey from burnout to joy and peace
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WELCOME... These are extraordinary times for everyone. As we put this magazine together, the country was asked to work from home, and remain at home outside of daily exercise and travelling to buy essential groceries. Our lives have changed beyond recognition for now, and businesses and individuals are having to move swiftly to adjust. PA Life’s readers – PAs, EAs, Corporate Bookers and Administrative Assistants – will be at the very heart of the changes that businesses are being forced to make to keep going, albeit in a very different way. Add in home-schooling for those of us who are parents, plus getting used to being with partners 24/7, and it all adds up to a very challenging time for all of us. But we are here to support you every step of the way. So it is fortuitous that we have a big focus on wellbeing in this issue. First up are the results of the PA Life Wellbeing Survey we carried out with over 440 of you, taking in your thoughts on workplace stress, your challenges and worries. Turn the page to ﬁnd out more – I’m sure the ﬁndings will resonate with most of you. The subject of our PA Proﬁle this issue is the inspirational Aimee Browne, who was a popular speaker at the recent PA Life Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing Summit. A year ago, Aimee was in bed, suicidal, having burned out from long hours and stress. Today, as well as being an EA at retailer The Works, she runs three businesses from home – including the Facebook group The Mindful Assistant. On pages 9-11 she shares her tips
“PA Life readers will be at the very heart of the changes businesses are being forced to make to keep going. We’re here to support you” on avoiding burnout, as well as cautioning on the signs to look out for. And our regular wellness writer Amy Gallagher explains the importance of balancing our female and male energies, and reveals how to do just that. Meanwhile, because we know that these tricky times will pass, we throw the spotlight on certain key areas, namely Team Building activities and ideas, Academic Venues and Outdoor Spaces. It will be ‘Business As Usual’ before we know it, so we’re here to provide inspiration for you and your team. Speaking of which, while you have more time to research new options, make sure you keep an eye on our Recommended Supplier Directory at www.palife.co.uk. We’re supporting our commercial partners through this time by offering free listings, so there are more potential suppliers for you to consider for upcoming projects. We are also increasing the content on the website – and on our social media channels – to ensure that you stay connected with your career and your peers. In addition, you can also use this time to learn new skills and improve existing ones. We have a bundle of over 100 online learning courses tailored speciﬁcally for PA Life readers. Find out more at www.palife.co.uk/course-bundle. We’re all in this together, and the team at PA Life wants to provide support for all our readers and partners. If you would like us to cover any particular areas, or have tips for surviving lockdown, please email me at email@example.com. Lisa Carter, Associate Editor
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SPECIAL REPORT: PAs & WORKPLACE STRESS Long hours, skipped lunch breaks, being always ‘on call’ and checking emails on holiday – all this and more means that Personal and Executive Assistants are fearing for their health due to work pressures. PA Life reports Over 60 per cent of PAs (Personal Assistants) are worried that their workplace stress is affecting their health, with long hours, heavy workloads, disorganised bosses and being constantly ‘on call’ contributing to the pressure they feel. PA Life has carried out a widescale survey of Personal and Executive Assistants – and the results are worrying. Almost half (49.7%) of the PAs surveyed revealed that they feel they are constantly on call, with a further 8.6% claiming that they ‘sometimes’ feel like they are required to respond to their bosses outside of normal working hours. In addition, a whopping 83% say that they check work emails in the evening, at weekends and on holiday. And over 66 per cent believe that their bosses’ stress makes them feel similarly pressured and anxious. Unsurprisingly, these issues mean that over 56 per cent worry that they don’t have a healthy work/life balance, with over 57 per cent concerned that they are at risk of ‘burn out’. The survey of over 440 individuals also looked at the hours PAs and EAs are regularly working – with 33.4% working 9-9.5 hours each day and 11.5% working over 10 hours a day. Meanwhile, when asked what one thing would help them to achieve a better work/life balance, over 60% responded that having the option to work from home or to have ﬂexible hours would make a huge difference. Other solutions included: - Working fewer hours – 22.7% - Having a reduced workload – 11.7% - Getting extra support/staff – 11.7% - A shorter commute to work – 8.3% - Being able to have a lunch break – 4.1% “Regular feedback from our readers meant that we were aware that today’s Personal and Executive Assistants often
feel pushed to the limit regarding their working hours and their workload,” said Sarah Beall, MD of Forum Events & Media Group, the company behind PA Life. “But even we were surprised at the level of stress these individuals are placed under – and, worryingly, how
overseas travel, running conferences and more. Like many in today’s working environment, they are also often expected to answer calls and emails in the evenings, weekends and when they’re on holiday. Sadly, these ‘office heroes’ are often undervalued too.
We urge senior managers to recognise and celebrate the contribution of their PAs and EAs – and allow them to turn off their phones and emails, plus consider allowing ﬂexible working.
many believe it is affecting their health. “The days of PAs and EAs simply typing letters, taking notes in meetings and booking taxis are long gone. The role of today’s Assistants is very often an extension of that of their CEOs and Directors – organising company events, taking on HR responsibilities, booking
“The results of this survey are worrying, but we hope that this insight will also prove to be a turning point. We urge senior managers to recognise and celebrate the contribution of their PAs and EAs – and allow them to turn off their phones and emails, plus consider allowing ﬂexible working!”
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Healing your inner masculine and feminine energies With the current coronavirus pandemic, Amy Gallagher of Amy Gallagher Coaching believes it’s never been more important to balance your male and female traits – and explains how We all have masculine and feminine energies within us, regardless of our gender. We need these energies to be balanced and united for us to feel whole. When our masculine energy is in balance, it shows up as the action-taker, the part of us that gets things done in a structured and logical fashion. The typical traits of a balanced masculine energy, sometimes referred to as the sacred masculine, are: • Strong and protective • Assertive • Decisive and direct • In touch with feelings • Proactive • Present • Energised and motivated • Logical and analytical
• Outward-focused • Structured • Directive • Driven Some of these traits will no doubt resonate with you. However, some of you may ﬁnd yourself running on excessive masculine energy and this is where you start to create an imbalance in how you behave and feel. An excessive masculine energy, otherwise known as the wounded masculine, can show up as: • Overly competitive • Aggressive and ruthless • Ego-led • Detached from emotions and unable to be vulnerable • Lacking empathy
• Selﬁsh • Headstrong and arrogant • Rigid and controlling • Pushing and striving when it’s time to rest • Only interested in the outcome or end goal • Angry and blaming When I worked in the corporate world, I operated on an excessive masculine energy. I decided early on that I would only be respected and accepted if I acted like ‘one of the men’. I believed that success meant I had to be achieving and accomplishing all the time. My ‘busy-ness’ spilled over into my personal life. I had a full diary and little down time. I wasn’t tuning in to my feelings and I certainly
wasn’t tuning in to my intuition enough. I had suppressed most of my feminine energy and she only came out when I was mentoring and coaching my teams. Now I believe the whole world is operating on an excessive masculine energy. We have been conditioned to always ‘do’, to be overly focused on achievements. When do you take time to rest? So many of you complain that you are too busy for self-care or that you feel tired, even exhausted, most days. Our bodies are screaming at us to slow down but we continue to live in this unbalanced way. We have raised our boys to believe that real men are strong, assertive and unemotional providers. If they dare to deviate from this, they are considered effeminate or weak. And the fall-out from this is a generation of men who are disconnected from their emotions, unable to speak about how they feel and we continue to see an increase in male suicides. Let’s look at feminine energy now and how this differs from our masculine. Our feminine energy shows up as the wise one, the nurturer, the truth seeker. She’s the part of us that knows when to
go inwards to connect to our innate wisdom. She trusts in the ﬂow of life. She knows how to validate from within. The traits of a balanced feminine energy are: • Compassionate • Wise and intuitive • Connected with nature • Empathic • Inwards focused • Expressive and sensual • Flexible • Able to multi-task • Receptive • Magnetic When your feminine energy is wounded, this can show up as the people-pleaser, the martyr or the victim. Your behaviours are likely to look like this: • Needy • Co-dependent • Low self-esteem • Gossiping and judging others • Resentful • Overly sensitive • Unable to express your needs • Unable to put yourself ﬁrst • Unable to set clear boundaries • Feels too much and also dims her light
to ‘ﬁt in’ with the situation • Always saying “sorry” and struggling to say no • Carrying shame and guilt • Seeking validation in the outside world I feel we have been conditioned to reject our feminine nature, our intuition, and been taught to favour our masculine, the energy of doing. If we are constantly in our ‘doing’ energy we can never fully connect to our feelings. The simple truth is we need both energies to live from a place of creating and making our visions happen. The feminine part of us is the visionary, the one who can see all possibilities. Our masculine energy is what allows us to make these possibilities become realities. It’s interesting to witness what we are all going through right now with the coronavirus pandemic. Mother Earth is demanding us to slow down, to go within, to reconnect with ourselves and to reconnect with each other. She wants us to embrace more of our sacred feminine energy. This is a period of deep healing for all of us and a chance for us to create more balance within ourselves and the world around us.
Aimee Browne A year ago, Aimee Browne was laid up in bed suffering from depression that was so bad, she had suicidal thoughts. Today, the EA for The Works is a picture of vitality and is running three businesses alongside her ‘day’ job. She tells us her story… Photography: Dave Willis With thanks to Le Meridien Piccadilly for providing the backdrop to the photo shoot
I was pushing myself to the limit, working long hours and even emailing myself from bed. It was my own doing – I was creating the urgency. I wore my ‘busy-ness’ as a badge of honour. Aimee Browne epitomises joy and wellbeing. Bouncing through the door of Marriott’s Le Meridien Piccadilly for the photo shoot, she’s instantly likeable and her laughter and energy are catching. But just a year ago, she was in bed, laid up with depression that was so bad, she had suicidal thoughts... a recurring nightmare as two years prior to that she had pushed herself to the point of burnout. At the time she was working as an PA at Next, where even her exec was concerned about her. “On the surface, I was a bubbly, outgoing and very organised person and totally in control,” she says. “But I was pushing myself to the limit, working long hours and even emailing myself from bed to remind myself of things I needed to do. It was all my own doing – I was creating the urgency, I was creating this workload. I wore my ‘busy-ness’ as a badge of honour. But it led to burn out.” As Aimee points out, “you think it’s never going to happen to you”, but her exec noticed that she was on the edge, that she’d lost her sparkle – and told her to visit the doctor. “I was told to take two weeks off work,” she reveals. “But I said I couldn’t do that. In my mind, I was thinking about all the preparation I’d normally have to do to take a week’s holiday! How could I just take two weeks off?! It felt selﬁsh. But in the end, I was off for three months – and I got worse before I got better.” Aimee is now fully recovered and is working as an Executive Assistant for retailer The Works. In addition, she runs three businesses, including the group The Mindful Assistant which offers advice and support to PAs and EAs. She also talks about her own experience – and was one of the speakers at the recent PA Life Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing Summit. And one of the key things she advises on is how to spot the signs of burnout. “Listen out for the whispers,” she cautions. “They are your warning signs – but they are also very common amongst PAs and EAs. I couldn’t relax, I was tired but wired, I was rushing around and felt emotional and irritable. Nothing was good enough, I felt overwhelmed, I was forgetful, I couldn’t relax and had no energy. These are the whispers and if you
recognise any of them in yourself, now is the time to take stock – because no one thinks burnout will happen to them, but it creeps up and takes you down when you least expect it. We are not invincible.” The problem, says Aimee, is that the traits of a great Assistant are the very things that can lead to burnout, if you’re not careful. A brilliant Assistant is forward-thinking, a perfectionist, has high expectations, has everything under control, is organised, a multi-tasker and works at a fast pace. So what is the answer? How can you avoid pushing yourself too far? Aimee’s key advice? “Check your speed limit. Slow down and look at how you are working, stop being busy for the sake of it, and take a reality check every now and then. When I burned out, I was working for Next Retail. It was a great company to work for, and my execs were incredibly supportive. But, ultimately, we sold clothes! We weren’t saving lives! “Manage expectations – if you answer emails in the evenings or at night, people will expect it. You are driving behaviours. Set boundaries. Learn to say no, occasionally. Or explain that some things will need to wait. “Remember that you take care of everyone else – your execs, your team, your family and partners. Who is taking care of you? This needs to start with yourself – look after your physical and mental health – but also ﬁnd your ‘safe’ people; those who can support you. And avoid ‘mood hoovers’. “I have learnt that I have to ‘ﬁll myself up’ ﬁrst before giving to others. I have learnt to say no when required. ‘No’ doesn’t have to be forever; it just means it’s a ‘no’ right now, or it means an alternative solution. “Checking in with yourself, with your workload, with your energy and wellbeing are so important – know when to pull back before the scales tip in the wrong direction.” Having pulled herself back from the brink, Aimee Browne is genuinely inspirational and wants to share her journey and messages to help others. Take heed of her advice – and discover more wise words at www.facebook.com/ themindfulassistant.
AIMEEâ€™S TOP TIPS FOR SELF LOVE Be kind to yourself Speak to yourself as you would a friend Protect your energy, your happiness and your time Remember to set boundaries!
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Teambuilding is a word that can cast fear into the hearts of event organisers and attendees alike. But it needn’t be a laborious task for you, or a daunting exercise for guests.
How to tackle team-building activities It’s often more stressful than organising the Christmas Party, but preparing teambuilding activities doesn’t have to be a chore. Nicky Brown, Director of Arctic Fox Events offers some wise words of advice
Teambuilding can be a word that casts fear into the hearts of event organisers and attendees alike. But it needn’t be a laborious task for you in the planning stages or a daunting exercise for your event attendees once they get onsite. Here are a few tips on how to make your teambuilding choices work for you. • As the old saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in team - make sure you choose an event space or venue that encourages collaboration and has an emphasis on shared space. Venues are increasingly offering shared breakout spaces or room for creative learning with a more relaxed style and theme that encourages collaborative learning and teambuilding. • Embrace the great outdoors - if you are looking for more physical activities to complement your event programme, look for a venue space with grounds for outdoor ventures and teambuilding. Whether that’s for a treasure hunt, go-karting, high wires or sheep herding, there are so many activities that can take place rain or shine. Some venues have
their own onsite teams to manage your teambuilding sessions. • Understand what you are trying to achieve through your teambuilding. Are you looking to get a department out of the office and socialising together? If so, more relaxed activities are perfect consider private hire bowling, escape rooms, indoor golf, a ball pit or even axe throwing for some relaxed (but still competitive) activities. • Work with the experts. There are lots of companies that specialise in tailoring teambuilding activities to your event programme and can help your attendees to either create content or to explore the core message of the conference through the teambuilding activities. As with most things event related, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you have an idea of what you would like to do or achieve, then consider who you outsource to as the right team building company and venue ﬁnder can turn your ideas into a reality and make a real difference to your event programme.
There is a lot to be said for ‘leaving work’ at the end of the day, and if you’re working from home, it’s important to strike a balance. Make sure you ‘clock off’ when you should.
How To Master Remote Working These exceptional circumstances may have forced us to work from home, but I believe it’s a positive way to work. And I have some advice on how to make sure you’re mastering it productively. BENEFITS There are lots of beneﬁts to working remotely. You don’t have a commute and if you’re setting your own routine then you have total ﬂexibility away from the rigidity of a strict 9-5. Working remotely opens up opportunities in terms of not being limited by your location. From hugely reduced stress levels, to feeling more comfortable in your environment and noticing increased productivity, if you’re happy in your work space then you’re going to be happier in your job – and better at it. YOUR WORK SPACE There are some key tools you will need in order to successfully work remotely.
Even before the pandemic, more companies were offering ﬂexible working options. Now it’s a reality for most of us. Katie Mellor of KM Virtual Office offers some advice
It goes without saying that you’ll need a designated place to work where your brain can officially switch into ‘work’ mode and out of ‘home’ mode. In an ideal world, you’d have your own office, but if that isn’t possible, set a space in your home which is quiet and organised. Try and ensure you have somewhere to ﬁle paperwork, collate all ‘work’ related items and keep anything related to your job in once place. It’s important to keep your ‘work’ time and activities within this area, and not spread throughout your house, as you need to ensure there’s a cut off between your home life and your work life. BOUNDARIES AND DISTRACTIONS It all sounds pretty freeing, but it does take some micro management to keep a solid line between your work life and your home life. There is a lot to be said for ‘leaving work’ at the end of the day, and if you’re working from your own home, it’s important to strike a balance. It will take some self-control to make sure you clock off when you should, and certainly
if you have your computer nearby, the temptation to go and check emails or tackle outstanding tasks will be easy to give in to sometimes – you need to be disciplined and ensure you ‘leave’. It’s super important to know what your distractions are too. If dirty dishes are going to bug you, make sure they’re done the night before. ROUTINE Setting a routine is actually more important than ever when you’re working remotely or working for yourself, as without a proper structure, you can end up procrastinating, wasting time or feeling overwhelmed. We recommend setting out planned hours for your day and utilising apps or lists that can help with organisation. The joy of remote working is that you can set your own routine, but it can be easy to go the other way and get caught up in tasks without stopping. We suggest always getting up for some fresh air at regular intervals and taking a short break for lunch to clear your mind.
Yellow has been shown to increase mood, positivity and happiness, making it a perfect hue for home working, especially during the current uncertainty.
How to create a home office For most of us, working from home is now the new normal for the foreseeable future. Furniture Choice’s Rebecca Snowden reveals how to create a productive work space. 1. KEEP IT GREEN Research shows that greenery is key when it comes to concentration, boosting mood and creating a more calm working environment. In fact, The American Psychological Association found that workers in spaces with plants showed around 15 per cent higher productivity than those without. So it’s deﬁnitely a good idea to incorporate plants and greenery into your home office. 2. LET THE LIGHT IN Poor lighting can make you feel tired, strain your eyes and give you a headache, all of which can take away focus and motivation. A study also found a direct positive correlation between daylight and productivity, revealing that natural light improves alertness. This means that a well-lit room is crucial for a good home office space, so we’d advise setting up your desk near a window and staying away from harsh, electric lights. If this isn’t possible,
daylight or SAD lamps that simulate natural light would also help. 3. USE BRIGHT COLOURS The colour of your room can drastically affect your mood and wellbeing. In fact, colour psychologists have conﬁrmed that the colour of a room affects your behaviour, mood and concentration. Both blue and green have been said to encourage productivity, making these hues a popular choice for offices. Yellow has been shown to increase mood, positivity and happiness, making it a perfect hue for home working, especially during the current uncertainty. 4. EXPERIMENT WITH SCENTS Need an extra pick me up? Then try experimenting with some different scents in your home office. Many studies have shown that odours impact our mood, creativity and problem-solving skills, and one Japanese study found that diffusing lemon oil through an office increased worker’s performance by 54 per cent. Be careful not to create an overpowering smell though and avoid
artiﬁcial perfumes. We’d advise sticking with natural scents like lavender and essential oils instead, such as: • Pine – for alertness • Cinnamon – for focus • Lavender – to relax • Peppermint – to lift your mood • Citrus (any) – for wakefulness 5. KEEP IT COOL Research has shown that productivity can dramatically suffer if the temperature of your working environment isn’t right for you. According to one review from the OSTI, the ideal temperature is between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius, with concentration levels dropping by two per cent for every degree over 25C. To avoid a dip in concentration, make sure temperature levels stay constant. Bringing in a breeze, whether that’s via an open window or a small desk fan, can freshen up your workspace while reducing temperatures, helping to keep you comfortable and productive while working from home.
The beneﬁts of team-building Bringing together colleagues and staff for group activities can help create better morale, more collaboration and, ultimately, help grow your company’s productivity. Matt Carter of Team Wellness Solutions offers some tips on how to get the most from your team-building days
I have been told many times, by many employers, and from many sources, that the most valuable asset in any company or organisation is its employees. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, if your team doesn’t get on as a whole then they will not be performing at their full potential. And this will eventually lead to low morale, a lack of interest in their job role, turning up for work late – and leading to a high sickness rate. And, ﬁnally, resulting in a lack of productivity and a detrimental effect on the business as a whole. A happier team can be beneﬁcial for a company for many reasons: increased morale, therefore a happier, more comfortable workforce where staff are able to communicate more efficiently. This can only beneﬁt work ethic and improve their quality of work. I have participated in many team building days over the years, from outdoor adventure parks where teams
have to get an object across a rope bridge without dropping it; to army style military ﬁtness assault courses where teams work together to negotiate their team through and over many challenges; to the traditional carrying of the wood log from one position to the next. Other activities include sitting in classroom lectures on team development, and learning workshops on how best to describe your colleagues and managers, as well as analysing yourself and looking at how to improve working relationships, job satisfaction and increase morale. So when I was in the planning stages of formulating a business plan of how I was going to deliver team development and wellness workshops, I drew on all of my past experiences and created a programme of all kinds of team games, categorised into three stages. The ﬁrst is to ascertain the team’s knowledge of each other by using a series of getting-to-know-you games to build on and increase their overall working relationships. This can be carried on through the whole of the workshop.
The second stage is designed to get the group working together as a whole, or delegating team members to organise a group in team-related, problem-solving games: building games, skill games, memory games, etc. This creates an element of team camaraderie with the teams working together and creating a closer bond between them. The ﬁnal stage involves games which are more relaxed where the teams are quizzed on their ability to remember how much they have absorbed about their colleagues, and games which use the whole of the team in either one big group or smaller groups working as a whole to further increase team bonding. I believe that team development wellness workshops like this can beneﬁt all companies, as they are mobile and can be brought to your place of work, minimising costs and providing a fun-ﬁlled day. And ultimately, it allows staff to return to their desks happier and working better together, to help grow their company’s future progress. www.teamwellnesssolutions.co.uk
CLUBHOUSE MOBILE MINI GOLF Clubhouse Mobile Mini Golf prides itself on its ability to deliver a stunning portable crazy golf course in a way that makes the life of the event organiser as easy as possible. With over ten years’ experience in event planning, the events team are on hand to ensure every aspect of your event with Clubhouse runs smoothly. From pricing that ensures you receive the best value for money, through to a seamless pack down, working with Clubhouse couldn’t be easier. The on-the-day process is streamlined, safe and stress-free: The team arrives at the venue roughly two hours prior. Course installation takes around 90 minutes. Staff will remain on site throughout the event to ensure guests enjoy the course in a safe manner. After the event, the team requires 90 minutes to collapse and pack away the course, leaving no trace at the venue! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3105 2343 to ﬁnd out more.
IGO ADVENTURES Employee engagement is important, and numerous studies have demonstrated a marked improvement in revenues over a long period for businesses that keep it at the centre of their resource management strategy. A study conducted by Bain showed that over seven years, companies with highly engaged workers
grew revenues two and a half times as much as those with low engagement levels. IGO Adventures offers a range of multi-disciplined team building activities in some of the world’s most spectacular wilderness locations that have personal and team development at their core. The team will guide your corporate staff as they use their problem solving and communication skills to achieve a common goal in our bespoke outdoor team building events. IGO Adventures prides itself on providing you with a bespoke tailored solution to each of the clients we work with. Regardless if you are a large group or a small one, we guarantee that we will be able to organise and host an excellent team-building adventure that you and your team will never forget. Email email@example.com or call 020 8914 7621 to ﬁnd out more.
PUTTSHACK Puttshack is a mini golf concept which provides guests with a modern twist on the traditional game by using tech which can’t be found anywhere else. The new competitive socialising format lends itself perfectly to corporate activities such as team-building, with its immersive gaming element combined with an amazing atmosphere and an extensive food and drink offering. Colleagues can compete with each other across the courses, which have interactive leader boards, ‘super tubes’ and a prize wheel where guests can win drinks, pizzas and extra points – an electric combination to get some friendly competition going. Hire out the venue or book in a few rounds of golf for your team – Puttshack’s wide range of corporate packages means there is an experience for teams of all sizes. Puttshack’s extensive food and drink offering lends itself well to large groups with its great selection of sharing grill platters and feel good food options.
The bar also has an exciting drinks menu including cocktails created using Puttshack’s very own rum. There are sites in Westﬁeld London, White City, Bank and Lakeside, Essex. All are open seven days a week and welcome large groups for corporate events and socials. The sites at Bank and Lakeside both have private rooms available with screens, wi-ﬁ and food and drink packages for those planning conference-style meetups. Teams can then add in a few rounds of golf, making the meeting one to remember. The event hosts at Puttshack are on hand to ensure the smooth running of any event, so the team will be talking about it for months after. www.puttshack.com
WHILTON MILL Daniel Whittemore, Sales & Marketing Director at Whilton Mill Karting & Outdoor Activities provides thoughts on the current situation: “Due to the Coronavirus crisis, 2020 will arguably be one of the worst years on record for most British businesses. There is no doubt life in lockdown and uncertainty about the future will have had a profound effect on employee motivation and morale. Right now, businesses are planning to recover and rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19, and restoring employee motivation and morale is likely to be at the top of the agenda. There is much evidence to support that outdoor activities increase motivation. Additionally, team building activities help to boost morale. When
WILLIAMS F1 If you are thinking about planning a team away day or corporate event in a unique setting, the Williams Conference Centre might just provide the perfect location. Based at the home of ROKiT Williams Racing, the venue has 10 multi-purpose event rooms catering for up to 350 guests. Full support is provided, with in-house AV facilities, event managers and ﬁve-start catering and service all included. There are plenty of activities available to include as part of an events package. Take a walk through the Williams Heritage Collection, the largest privately owned collection of Formula One cars in the world. The exhibition charts the team’s full 42 year history. Take part in a pit stop challenge using equipment used at Grand Prix events around the world by the Williams race team. Or challenge your friend and colleagues to a race in any of the VR spec race simulators. www.williamsf1.com
life returns to normal Whilton Mill Karting & Outdoor Activities will be ready with exciting and memorable events to help your business re-engage with employees, provide recognition for their support during this crisis, to offer a distraction from what has been and to provide focus on what will be. Our 100-acre site in Northamptonshire offers go-karting, clay shooting, quad biking, 4x4, archery, meetings, family fun days, outdoors event space and has an 80-seater restaurant that’s available for
private hire and exclusive Christmas parties. To enquire, call 01327 843822, email info@ whiltonmill.co.uk or visit www. whiltonmill.co.uk.
CLASS ACTS Academic Venues are continuing to grow in popularity when it comes to hosting meetings, conferences and more. PA Life takes a look at some of the best options
CONFERENCE OXFORD Why not consider holding your next event at the world-renowned University of Oxford and its colleges. Let Conference Oxford be your ﬁrst point of contact when looking for a venue for a residential or day conference, a meeting, a celebratory dinner, an award ceremony, a party or a wedding – the
list is endless! Representing 68 unique venues, Conference Oxford offers a free and informative service to help you ﬁnd the perfect venue for your event. Our venues offer a broad array of facilities, including modern purpose-built lecture theatres, traditional college halls, glorious garden quads, libraries and
QUEEN MARY VENUES Queen Mary Venues specialises in versatility and great value to help make your event a success. Located across four well connected areas in central London, its facilities can host 10 to 778 guests, with residential accommodation. Event hospitality is provided by the dedicated in-house Queen Mary Hospitality team. With Grade II listed event space alongside contemporary venues and accommodation, Queen Mary Venues offers ﬂexibility and versatility in a unique for central London campus environment bordered by Regent’s
Canal. A dedicated team, and mutual passion for your event ensure we deliver a warm welcome and successful event. With over 100 venues across central London, Queen Mary Venues offers both historic and contemporary venues ideal for any occasion. With four connected central London locations, Queen Mary Venues are located in some of London’s most fashionable and trendy areas, namely Mile End, Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square and West Smithﬁeld. To ﬁnd out more, call 020 7882 8174 or visit www.qmul.ac.uk
museums. Give your delegates a very special experience in an unforgettable location. Contact Conference Oxford on 01865 276 190 or email enquiries@ conference-oxford.ox.ac.uk (Please note at present our team is working remotely but will respond to your as quickly as possibly.)
IMPERIAL VENUES Imperial Venues, Imperial College London, offers more than 100 ﬂexible event spaces in South Kensington. Spaces range from a Grade II listed townhouse with private courtyard garden, to modern meeting rooms, classrooms and lecture theatres. Event organisers can take advantage of Imperial’s professional event services, including in-house catering, superb audio-visual equipment, full event management and on-site accommodation during the summer. With such an array of venues in a superb central London location, Imperial is suitable for a range of events including meetings, conferences, symposiums, dinners, drinks receptions and more. 020 7594 9494
ROYAL HOLLOWAY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON Royal Holloway is a stunning conference and event venue. The iconic Grade 1 listed Victorian Founder’s Building, built around two quadrangles, is a unique retreat for conferences, meetings and events – as well as providing the perfect setting for functions and celebrations. The venue has a portfolio of versatile state-of-the-art conference spaces, from small meeting rooms, to modern 100-400 seat capacity auditoriums. These facilities, combined with great value rates, make Royal Holloway a fantastic option for a whole range of events. The venue also offers stunning dining and banqueting facilities. The superb collection of art in the Picture Gallery provides a truly spectacular backdrop to gala dinners, while the elegant Dining Hall with its high, ornate ceilings, provides a vast space in which
to create a unique sense of occasion. The venue has an excellent selection of over 2,500 bedrooms, including en-suite double and single rooms, as well as standard single and twin rooms, all within easy reach of both meeting, dining and sports facilities.
Royal Holloway is ideally located in Egham, Surrey, close to the M25, M3, M4, Heathrow airport and London Waterloo. Visit venue.royalholloway.ac.uk, email sales-office@royalholloway. ac.uk or call 01784 443045.
ROEHAMPTON Roehampton Venues SW15 is on the edge of Richmond Park, South of Hammersmith Bridge and with close links from London Waterloo.
The venue offers interchangeable conference spaces and a selection of modern and historic grade listed venues, as well as a 30-bedroom hotel on site.
With such a varied portfolio, whatever the brief, the team believes it can tick all the boxes for venue ďŹ nders and event bookers. 020 8392 3505
REGENT’S CONFERENCE & EVENTS Regent’s Conferences & Events offers unique indoor and outdoor event spaces within four acres of private grounds in Regent’s Park – a true hidden gem in the heart of the capital. Presenting a solution for large-scale events unlike any other in London, Regent’s’ grounds are encased in landscaped tranquillity where the countryside meets the city. Comprising pristine lawns and lush foliage with an elegant, ivory-lined marquee in the summer months, Regent’s creates a
magical setting for parties of up to 1,200 guests. The expansive space aids a limitless range of events, including summer parties, weddings, family fun days, team building events, conferences and festivals, demonstrating the tremendous versatility of the venue. Inside, the venue offers several spaces, each packed full of charm and character. The light and spacious rooms can host conferences of up to 370 delegates or more intimate dining and meeting set-ups with huge
versatility. Herringham Hall, with its high ceilings and tall, arched windows is an impressive space which lends itself brilliantly to dynamic events including launches and parties. The Tuke Common Room is another signature space with original art deco features, wood panelling and views over the lawns. Just minutes from Baker Street tube station, the venue is conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from London’s West End. www.regentsevents.co.uk
MANCHESTER METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY Manchester Metropolitan University is located in the city centre, providing excellent public transport links. Its diverse space can accommodate a range of activities, from small meetings to international conferences and events. World class specialist facilities and academic expertise can add value to an event. The events team works with its academics, attracting business to the university and the city through their links with businesses and associations worldwide. 0161 247 1565
The sun will come out! Right now, none of us are spending much time outside of the house, except for essential groceries and a walk round the block. But, this situation will end! And your teams will be keen to take their meetings, corporate hospitality events and more outside. Here are some options
WYBOSTON LAKES From parties to banquets, there’s a great range of exciting ways to host your event at Wyboston Lakes Resort. It’s home to two purpose built, residential conference and training venues. The Woodlands Event Centre has been refurbished and is the resort’s premier conference and events space. It has 120 bedrooms, capacity for up to 620 delegates, great room ﬂexibility and is ideal for a variety of events. It is
set within a stunning 380-acre site. Meanwhile, The Willows Training Centre is designed for meetings and training events, with everything thoughtfully catered for. The venue forms part of the Wyboston Lakes Training & Events portfolio and has a combination of 40 training and syndicate rooms and 183 welcoming bedrooms, making it the perfect training venue. And of course, there’s the outdoor
WWT LONDON WETLAND CENTRE WWT London Wetland Centre is an idyllic venue to hold your event, from meetings, away days and product launches, to Christmas parties and celebratory functions. Located on the banks of the River Thames in Barnes, WWT London contributes works to support conservation and is home to some rare and beautiful wildlife. Only ten minutes from Hammersmith or Barnes, it offers ample free onsite parking allowing delegates the ease and choice of transport. Set in 42 hectares of scenic
spaces, which are perfect for teambuilding and corporate hospitality. The Ride Leisure team has over 15 years of providing fun days, including Adventure Packages on both the land and water. Activities include Wake Boarding, Water Skiing, Jet Skis, Banana Boat, 4x4 Off Road, Quad Bikes, Archery, Air Riﬂe, Laser Clays, Jet Bike, Paddle Board, F1 Power Boat, High End Land Rover, Axe Throwing, Segway and much more. www.wybostonlakes.co.uk
lakes, pools and meadows, the reserve offers a unique setting close to the heart of London and is complemented by ﬁrst rate facilities. WWT’s experienced events team will manage your event, providing a professional but informal and friendly service. A variety of rooms seating from 10 to 150 delegates and a range of catering options are available, allowing WWT to accommodate individual requirements including reception drinks on arrival. 020 8409 4400
PORT LYMPNE HOTEL & RESERVE Inspire, motivate and entertain your colleagues at the stunning location that is Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve. Set in 600 acres of beautiful Kentish countryside, an event held here is an experience that no one will forget. Journey with your team through Southern America, Asia and Africa on
the authentic safari, seeing amazing wildlife and taking in the perfect panoramic view over the Romney Marsh and out to the coastline. Choose from a range of onsite locations to host your event, from The Spencer Roberts room within the Port Lympne Hotel, which is adorned with an incredible hand painted wildlife
mural done by the artist himself; to Bear Lodge which is made up of 19 luxury glamping tents and a spacious Clubhouse with Restaurant and Bar. The team is conďŹ dent that whatever the occasion or reason for your visit its Events Coordinators can help you plan and organise a day that will be unrivalled. If a day is not long enough then you can extend your visit by booking one of the luxury accommodations. Large groups are welcomed overnight and there are special packages for stays of two or more nights Take your pick from the 4 star Port Lympne Hotel and relax in sophisticated style, or enjoy the height of luxe with an overnight stay at the award winning Treehouse Hotel. Alternatively, choose creature comforts and cosy chic at Giraffe Cottage, or incredible views and wild neighbours at one of the many lodges. 01303 234111
Get the Xmas Party started! If one thing’s for certain in these current difficult times, the 2020 Christmas Party season is going to be one to remember. If you’re looking ahead and considering potential venues, we’ve rounded up a selection to suit all budgets and guest list IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, SOUTHWARK Located in central London close to the City, Westminster and Southbank, IWM London’s famous façade is a stunning Grade II listed building. Designed by architects, Foster + Partners, a spectacular Atrium forms the heart of the museum and a breath-taking hanging gallery provides dramatic views of the ﬂoors beneath. Along with smaller, re-modelled private dining rooms, IWM London provides the perfect backdrop for Christmas parties large and small, traditional or quirky. https://www.iwm.org.uk/commercial/ venue-hire
XR, MARYLEBONE Serving innovative modern European cuisine, Xier | XR is a dual concept restaurant on Marylebone’s Thayer Street, and the ﬁrst solo venture by Italian chef Carlo Scotto. The more informal dining destination, XR, is on the ground ﬂoor and offers a private dining room for up to 12 guests. Festivities will take place amongst the chic, pastel interiors of XR and diners will indulge in a sharing concept menu, with large, seasonally changing plates. Each main will be accompanied by a selection of tempting sides. www.xierlondon.com SKY GARDEN, MONUMENT Located 155 metres up above the streets and spectacular sights of London, the impressive Sky Garden offers a gourmet, garden oasis operated by renowned caterer rhubarb and boasts showstopping views across the capital and far beyond. Bedecked with Christmas decorations and with live music nights running throughout the festivities, Sky Garden offers creative cocktails perfect for an intimate Christmas gathering or big festive get together – with a drink in hand to get into the spirit in style. www.skygarden.london
INDIAN ACCENT, MAYFAIR Indian Accent is an elegant choice for your Christmas get-together, suitable for small gatherings to large events. The downstairs restaurant and bar are available for private hire for up to 30 guests seated or 40 standing for drinks and canapés. The restaurant is also available for full exclusive hire with an additional 40 covers available in the main restaurant. Offering a range of festive menus, from canapés to sharing platters through to sit-down dinners, the team can create a bespoke Christmas event sure to impress every guest. www.indianaccent.com/london
BALUCHI, TOWER BRIDGE Set in the hotel’s historic Grade II-listed Great Hall under striking cobalt blue Hyderbadi chandeliers, Baluchi is an impressive space for your Christmas event. Ornamented with bespoke Indian art, the room combines Indian culture with quintessentially British charm, retaining many original features. On the menu you can expect impressive Indian delights inspired by the rich curries of the NorthWest Frontier, for a Christmas party with a difference. www.thelalit.com/the-lalit-london
SAATCHI GALLERY BAR & BRASSERIE BY SEARCYS The newly opened Saatchi Gallery Bar & Brasserie by Searcys, is a chic and cultural destination for your Christmas celebrations. The stylish private dining and events spaces are suitable for up to 80 seated and 150 standing. For events this winter, Executive Chef Darren Deadman and team have created a menu boasting warm ﬂavours, beautiful colours and seasonal favourites. All accompanied by one of Searcys signature cocktails and Champagne – served from a magnum. https://searcys.co.uk/venues/ saatchi-gallery/saatchi-gallery-barbrasserie/
DOWN IN THE PA Life recently visited the Oatlands Park Hotel for a venue scout and overnight stay – and we think this jewel in the Surrey countryside offers corporate bookers something a little different…
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a venue for your event, conference or meeting is location – how easy is it to get to for you and your guests? Another is the ambiance of the venue itself and, of course, the facilities it offers. On our recent trip to the 4-star Oatlands Park Hotel in Surrey, we discovered a venue that excels at all three requirements. The purpose of the visit was in fact a venue scout for an actual intra-company conference, so we were able to experience the full range of facilities on offer with the guidance of excellent Front Office Manager Jack Garrett. Our two-person party was arriving from different locations, one from Hertfordshire by car and the other from the City by train – and both journeys were extremely straight forward, with
Oatlands Park ﬁve minutes from J11 on the M25 (Heathrow Airport is 20 mins away), while it’s just 20 mins to Weybridge station (5 minutes drive from the hotel) on the train from Waterloo. Oatlands Park Hotel itself is set amidst the splendour of manicured gardens, and is equally suitable for relaxing getaways, business and weddings. It has some serious history too – the 10 acre grounds were originally the site of a grand Tudor palace built by Henry VIII in 1538, and monarchs including Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I have also resided at Oatlands during their reign. The hotel has also seen signiﬁcant investment in its facilities over the last three years, with some major renovations bringing the internal public and private spaces ﬁrmly into the 21st century. Areas that have had the most attention are the fabulously bright and
PARK airy main reception (it sports an impressive glass dome), the hallways, dining areas, meeting rooms, courtyard, as well as over 100 bedrooms. We stayed in a recently refurbished Feature room, which beneﬁtted from a large ensuite bathroom, lounge area and all the contemporary ﬁxtures and ﬁttings you could require for a business or leisure visit. In terms of corporate hospitality, our tour of the facilities took in spaces that can cater for events from 8 to 420 delegates, encompassing a series of meeting rooms (complete with the latest AV and conferencing equipment), right through to the impressive York Suite ballroom, which can be split into three smaller spaces as required. There were plenty of business events taking place when we stayed, giving the place a nice buzz.
Once business is complete, there are lots of options for entertainment and relaxation. Bar 1509, just off the main reception, has attentive staff and a lovely ambiance, complete with an open ﬁre to warm guests on those chilly winter evenings like the one when we visited.
onto a large terrace and offers great views of the Oatlands parkland and the Broadwater lake. On the evening that we dined, we were attended to by friendly and knowledgeable staff, presented with a fantastic three-course meal on a table with a bay window view of the
The hotel has seen signiﬁcant investment in its facilities over the last three years, with some major renovations bringing the internal spaces ﬁrmly into the 21st Century.
From there, it’s a short walk to the Mulberry Restaurant. Refurbished in January 2016, the Mulberry reﬂects modern design and elegant style in a huge room with stately pillars, high ceilings and luxury furnishings. The restaurant opens out
aforementioned grounds. Breakfast the next day was an extremely pleasant way to start the day in the same room, before we headed off back to Waterloo and the Home Counties. www.oatlandsparkhotel.com
Get yourself through the Lockdown Blues with a look back at the PA Show, a preview of upcoming events and some great resources for improving your skills and ďŹ nding new suppliersâ€Ś
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WHAT YOU MISSED… Last month The PA Show (along with sister events International Confex, OMYAGUE and the Event Production Show) opened its doors at ExCeL London. A heady mix of exhibitors, workshops, conference sessions and networking, the Show also played host to a major presence by PA Life. Our own stand was fully sustainable
and was created by the Creative Output. It hosted the PA Life team, along with representatives of AMEX Global Business Travel, who were on hand to help with all your corporate travel needs. It also featured healthy juice shots from Junius. The company’s range is designed around the active phytonutrients and superfoods that
support a particular pillar of health. Meanwhile, Plant Designs showcased its living plants range. As well as looking beautiful, they provide fresh air and a wealth of other beneﬁts. And speaking of wellbeing, the PA Life Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing Summit also took place during the PA Show – here are some pics of the action!
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Register for the PA Life Summit
Register today for the PA Life Summit – It’s free for you to attend and could help you reduce your expenditure by matching you up with innovative suppliers who match your requirements! www.palife.co.uk/pa-life-summit
Find your next favourite supplier Already planning for a life beyond lockdown? Looking for an event management company for your next big project? The PA Life Recommended Supplier Directory is home to dozens of trusted partners ready to help make your job easier. www.palife.co.uk/supplier-list
FIVE THINGS TO DO
Networking, learning and things to keep in mind
4 Get ready for CHS Leeds CHS Group has moved the date of CHS Leeds to July 7th in light of the social distancing measures introduced by government to combat the coronavirus. The event, which will take place at the ﬁrst direct Arena in Leeds, will be the 11th year of the show. www.chsleeds.com
Learn some new skills
Register for the Corporate Event Organisers Festival
During these times of great uncertainty, one thing we all have more of is time. So why not use it to learn new skills and improve existing ones? PA Life has a bundle of specially-curated online learning courses, discounted for PA Life Club members and designed to help you improve your expertise and learn new things. www.palife.co.uk/ course-bundle
Introducing the Corporate Event Organisers Festival – a brand new event experience tailor-made for event organisers, senior PAs & EAs and corporate bookers like you. Taking place on July 23rd at the Royal Windsor Racecourse, the Festival will combine hands-on sessions, team-building activities, topical seminars, wellness workshops, networking and more. www. palife.co.uk/events
PA LIFE CLUB
“As a PA you are not just part of the mechanics, you are a visible part of the business”
Work & life In this month’s interview Cara Gaffney, a PA at Office Space in Town and a PA Life Star Awards 2019 winner, talks about how she started life as an Assistant, her daily challenges and why technology is so important to the role… What inspired you to start a career as a PA/EA? Growing up, The Devil Wears Prada was always one of my favourite ﬁlms and I loved the glamorous lifestyle that surrounded PAs in the media, so this inspired me. But the busy nature of a career as a PA is what really encouraged me, and luckily in real life the tasks aren’t as ridiculous as “ﬁnd me the Harry Potter book that hasn’t been released” yet! How did you get your current job? I joined the company at 19 years-old as a receptionist, working for the ﬁrst time in the City. Shortly after joining I heard that the CEO was looking for a new PA and thought: ‘what have I got to lose?’. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take! What’s the best thing about your job? As a PA your day-to-day tasks vary a lot. The best thing for me is that you never know what a day in the office might
consist of, from event organisation to searching for summer holiday homes. I love being part of the team and seeing the projects we work so hard to achieve become a reality. Of course, there are the mundane admin tasks too, but being a PA deﬁnitely has its perks! And the most challenging? As a PA/EA you have to juggle. There is always more than one thing going on at once and my mind is constantly racing, ﬂicking from one thought to the next. Organisation is key and a notebook for writing check lists is essential! What does the PA/EA community need to change, in your opinion? The perception of the role needs to change - every PA job is different, and the role is continuously evolving. We still manage diaries and make travel arrangements, but we also contribute to the goals and visions of the organisation.
As a PA you are not just part of the mechanics in the background, you are a visible part of the business and need to be able to represent your senior manager in conversation and in writing. What is having the biggest impact on your job or on PAs/EAs in general? Technology means tasks that were historically time consuming can now be done at the click of a button. Although AI seems to be evolving very quickly, I’d like to think that I couldn’t be completely replaced by a robot, though! What websites/apps are invaluable to your job? We use Office 365, which has so many apps that enable information to be shared and stored. It has transformed the way we communicate and has evolved our working processes. For me personally, I am very dependent on my iPhone reminders from Siri.
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