Dundee hotel offering ‘escape desks’ to those working from home

A Dundee hotel is hoping to liven up people’s working from home routine by offering an “escape desk” for the day.

The Queens Hotel on the Nethergate has set up the makeshift workstations in its lounge area, and those who are finding it difficult to work from home five days a week can take over one for the day for a change of scene while still maintaining social distancing.

It is hoped the move will help workers who are finding it hard to cope with distractions -looking after children, cabin fever and poor mental health – while doing the 9-5 from their own home.

The Evening Telegraph sent reporter, James Simpson, into sample his new office for the day and squeeze back into his suit which has been in the wardrobe for the past six months.

If someone had said to me in March, I’d be sitting on a crisp October afternoon, in The Queens Hotel eating sandwiches and sipping on a latte while working away I’d never have believed them.

The “new normal” has presented many challenges since the start of lockdown, but being served snacks and beverages was something I was happy to get on board with.

I must admit I wasn’t sure how this would play out, the hospitality industry has had so many body blows that no one would have criticised them for throwing in the towel.

But in these unprecedented times the industry is being forced to adapt and innovate, and the Queens has just done that.

© Mhairi Edwards
Reporter James Simpson using the facilities. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

And, from the brief spell I spent in there, it appears that it might just be the winning formula in providing some much-need relief for those whose work and home life have been intertwined for more than half a year.

In the hours that passed I saw Zoom calls and colleagues able to meet-up and share a laugh and deal with those business issues that can’t be resolved with a online call or an email.

There were some timely reminders that we are by no means returning to pre-Covid-19 days, with hand sanitiser and mask-wearing staff aplenty.

In spite of this, I do think this could be the answer for those unable to return to the office – even if it for one day during the working week.

© Mhairi Edwards
Reporter James Simpson using the facilities being served by Food and Beveridge Supervisor Gavin Macdonald.  Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

Amy Derrick, regional sales manager, said: “We are trying to help people who are working from home because so many people have a lot of distractions or are trying to look after children at the same time.

“I normally travel for my job to various meetings and lunches and meet up with a lot of people but I have been sitting working at home where there is a lot of distractions and I get cabin fever.

“I was having Zoom calls as well with children running around in the background so I thought about it and saw we could use the space in the hotel more productively.

“So we have opened up our lounge area for workers to come to a safe environment where they can relax and get on with their work in their own area with no distractions.

“It will help people who are working from home to get out for the day rather than sitting inside their home five days a week.”

© Kris Miller
Exterior of Queens Hotel. Kris Miller/DCT Media

Each day costs £10 per person and they get an individual table to work from with WiFi, unlimited tea and coffee, and lunch served straight to their table.

As well as lending a helping hand to those working from home, it is also hoped the move will help boost business at the city centre hotel.

Amy added: “The hotel is not so busy with lunches at the moment and we are in a difficult situation because of the coronavirus restrictions on dining out.

“But this has really taken off, we had eight bookings on the very first day which is incredible.

“It has really boosted the hotel so it has been good to try something different.

“There is a really good atmosphere here and the manager said it is really good to have people coming back to the hotel as well.

“The hotel industry has suffered with these restrictions so we are just trying to come up with new ideas like every other industry at the moment.

“It is such a weird time but we have to keep positive and get on with it.”

One hotdesking colleague I befriended was Val Duguid, a clinical exercise specialist who works with people with chronic illnesses including cancer and diabetes.

She explained she was “surprised” just how busy the makeshift office was after using it for the first time yesterday.

© Mhairi Edwards
Facility user Valerie Duguid. Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

She added: “Its a great idea, I’ve been able to meet-up with a colleague today and we’ve been involved with a team meeting online.

“Given our client base we are largely working online on the Go Gym platform to allow people to exercise safely.

“It becomes soul destroying having to work from home basically since the start of lockdown.

“The Queen’s Hotel have provided a great outlet allowing people to work from here, you’ve got parking and its also supporting local business which I’m all for.

“I’m certainly surprised to see how busy it has been and I’m planning on coming back, it has created a step back to the norm.”

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