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We asked Gary Metcalf, Associate Director at The Bower in Shoreditch what it's been like starting his new job in lockdown...

Starting a new job can stir up many emotions, from fear and trepidation to excitement and relief. But taking on a new role in the middle of a global pandemic, well that’s something very few of us have experienced.

I left my previous job on Friday, 13th March, and, with excitement tinged with nervousness, I walked into The Bower the following Monday. I was really looking forward to working with my new team and to meeting all our occupiers. I had big dreams and visions of what we could achieve, but then life changed for all of us. I’d only been in my new position for a week when the country was locked down. How could we manage buildings remotely? I will admit I went into a bit of a panic, but after some emails were exchanged and a few calls were made, a plan was hatched. We were still able to go to the office albeit on alternating days to maintain social distancing. Getting the train to Liverpool Street the first day after lockdown was a surreal experience, I’ve worked in The City for 20 years and as I was walking to reach The Bower I could not believe how quiet it was. What was even more surreal was being in a building with very few occupiers, something I am sure all FM's will have dreamed of at some stage or another. But for me, I miss the interaction, the contact and being needed.

We quickly adapted and through constant and effective communication coupled with the use of technology we have been able to provide the same fantastic service that we have always have. Yes, there have been kids throwing Lego in the background and dogs and cats jumping on laptops but at least we are all in it together, we all have this in common.

I have been able to meet (albeit virtually) with all of our occupiers and our client to ensure we are aligned and agreed on the best ways to manage this unprecedented situation.

Someone asked me recently how I would describe what I do, and I said that my job is to keep the lights on (the lighthouse keeper doesn’t switch the lights off just because there are little or no boats in the harbour!)

By working closely on enlivenment planning and sustainability planning I have been able to jump in with both feet and thanks to Russell Jaycock, Director & Head of Facilities for organising our Friday quizzes, I feel part of the AP family. This was never going to be an ordinary induction, but that is OK because from what I've seen so far, Ashdown Phillips isn't an ordinary company and I like that.

Gary Metcalf, Associate Director