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Rob Hingston

by Rob Hingston / Managing Director

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27th Mar 2020

As the nation social distances, we still want our community to stay connected. This page will be regularly updated with news, resources, advice and tips to help members navigate the changing landscape. Stay in touch, we are available across our social media channels!

If you want information about Origin Workspace and our COVID-19 response, please visit COVID-19 Temporary Closure of Origin Workspace blog.

11th May – Five ways businesses are adapting during COVID-19

Many businesses across the country have been taking a reactive approach to respond and adapt quickly to the changing business landscape during CVODI-19. However, as our business community adapts to the new normal here are five proactive ways business owners are adapting to COVID-19:

  1. Keeping the infrastructure but changing the product. We’ve seen so many members of our business community changing their products to meet market demands. Whether that’s a local restaurant offering home deliveries of essential products, an accountancy firm offering rapid response to the latest government schemes, or a healthy eating business launching an app to help customers still achieve their end goals.
  2. Keeping the product but changing the delivery. Business owners are coming up with innovative ways to supply their customers with products they want. We’ve seen great support from the community for initiatives like #PayItForwardBristol and companies offering their products in digital form.
  3. Exploring untapped channels of entry. Many businesses are taking this time to up-skill staff, explore other revenue channels, and audit what has been working and not working to date. The businesses we’ve spoken to who have furloughed staff are also creating plans of actions and new projects for staff to take ownership of when back from furlough.
  4. Future proofing business. We’ve spoken to many business owners who are ending their fiscal year with a keen eye on planning for 2021. While many business owners have admitted there’s never enough time for long-term planning, there’s no better way to ensure business robustness than with a long-term strategy.
  5. Maintaining productivity. It can be difficult planning long-term when staff are furloughed and the business is still trying to navigate through the changing landscape. A key priority for members we have spoken to is retaining talent and keeping productivity levels up to deliver on key services and product commitments.

Let us know how you’re adapting your business during COVID-19 across our social channels.

4th May – New grant made available for co-working space tenants

This weekend the Government announced a £617m grant will be made available to co-working space tenants and other businesses that have not received funding through the business rates grant scheme.

To qualify, businesses must have under 50 employees and be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures.

For the latest information about the new scheme, please visit the government website.

30th April – 5 tips to keep staff morale up

As we enter the sixth week of remote working, we thought we would outline a few ways you can keep staff morale up if you’re experiencing ‘zoom fatigue’.

  1. Provide regular team communications
  2. Organise little surprises – whether it’s a team perk or a little virtual gift, show your appreciation for the team during this difficult time
  3. Forward plan as a team – team days out, ideal client wish lists, creative projects, get them all kicked off now
  4. Personal wellbeing – check in with the team about how they are feeling and if they need any support re-focusing on their physical and mental wellbeing
  5. Encourage team to up-skill – nothing boosts morale better than a good training session

It’s hard for your employees to keep their spirits up when they don’t hear from you. We often hear that no news is good news. While that saying might be true for other situations, work does not fall into this category. – How to Boost Employee Morale in 2020 Inc.

23rd April – Staying Linked-in – webinar with Greg Cooper

This morning we wanted to connect with members working solo with a quick LinkedIn training session and a chat with LinkedIn expert Greg Cooper. The 30-min mini session was packed with tips and trick son how to stay connected on LinkedIn, but we loved this piece of advice Greg had to share with the group. We are looking to host another session with Greg soon, so keep your eyes peeled on here.

21st April – Virtual Bristol Business Brainstorm

Today we hosted our first virtual Bristol Business Brainstorm. Thank you to all for attending and sparking an insightful debate about the future of small businesses.

Here are the poll results we took during the discussion. If you didn’t get a chance to make it, we will be hosting another virtual Bristol Business Brainstorm in May.



We all know exercising alone can be tough, so we launched OriginPostcodeChallenge to connect our community across Bristol and beyond. Share a snap of your daily exercise routine with a road name in the background (in the Origin t-shirt if you have one) and we will plot on a map just how far our community reaches. If you want an Origin t-shirt or to send your photos, please email me:


15th April – Small Business Lunchtime Sharing Platter

Last week we hosted a virtual lunchtime Startup Sharing Platter to discuss some of the challenges small businesses in Bristol are facing. Here are some of the stress points and growth opportunities shared by five startups during the lunchtime discussion:

Business support from government, charities and networks

  • Princes’ Trust and Natwest launched a £5m scheme available for young startups hit by COVID-19
  • West of England growth hub is helping businesses navigate the range of business support measures made available by the government. If you need support navigating the resources, contact West of England Enterprise Executives – [email protected] or call 0117 456 6955
  • Business West, Bristol’s Chamber of Commerce, are pulling together a letter to local leaders and central government asking for workspace occupiers, who pay rents indirectly via their workspace landlords, to be made eligible to receive the current £10k small business grant from government. We as Origin Workspace have signed this letter and will be letting members know the outcome. If you would like to support, you can find the letter to sign here.

Growth opportunities

Small businesses with a digital brand presence are reporting an increase in online sales, while others have adapted their business models to offer new products and services to retain loyal clients and customers.

Using time wisely

While the majority of small businesses have been affected by the pandemic, all business owners agreed that this time should be used wisely to skill-up and be ready to bounce-back.

From capturing customer feedback, to switching sales strategy from reactive to proactive, here are a few of the challenges shared in the Zoom call and how business owners are tackling them:

  • Impulse product purchases down – launching new digital service to compliment product
  • Business launch postponed – upskilling for new launch date
  • Funding paused – reviewing business plan to reflect new growth trajectory
  • Business confidence knocked – forward planning to help take mindset away from the now to what future success looks like

While the lunchtime sharing platter was 30-min, we got some really insightful feedback of how the small business community is working through COVID-19. Let us know on social media the small business resources that have really made a difference to your business.

2nd April 2020 – Bristol Media #PAYITFORWARD

A network for creative professionals has recently launched a new initiative to encourage the Bristol community to carry on collaborating and supporting business through this uncertain time. Visit the Bristol Media website for a full list of services and initiatives for the creative community in Bristol, Bath and the South West.


30th March 2020

Enterprise Nation has backed a call by the Small Business Commissioner for big businesses to pay their suppliers on time during the coronavirus outbreak.

“At the moment we’re in a position where financial support is in place, but it’s not there yet and may not be for some time. Every business and every individual must play their part and act responsibly if we are going to get through this in the best shape possible.” – Emma Jones, founder Enterprise Nation

26th March – Contractor/Self-employed support

Self-employed workers will now be able to apply for a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits through the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The total grant payment will be calculated based on the average monthly profits from the last three years and will be capped at £2,500 a month.

This scheme is open to those who have trading profits of less than £50,000 a year, and where more than half of their income comes from self-employment. This measure is estimated to help up to 3.8 million of the 5 million self-employed in the UK. The measure covers both sole traders and members of partnerships.

The Chancellor announced that the lump sum payment will be paid at the beginning of June and will cover March, April and May. Those eligible for the grant can continue to work as they receive support, however the money received must be declared on tax returns by January 2022 (i.e. in the personal tax return for the year ending 5 April 2021).

Although this will help a significant proportion of the self-employed population, an estimated 1.2 million people will not be eligible.

If you’re a company director and pay yourself a salary or dividends, you cannot benefit from this scheme. However, 80% of your salary will be covered by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if operating through PAYE, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Similarly, those who are recently self-employed and who do not have a full year of accounts available will not be eligible for any assistance under this particular scheme and must seek other forms of support such as Universal Credit; deferral of Self Assessment income tax payments due in July 2020 and VAT payments due from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020; grants for businesses that pay little or no business rates and loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).  – David Cheung – Tax Director – ihorizon

If you are a Startup business and have accounting challenges, speak to the expert team at ihorizon.

24th March – Working from home

In light of the government’s latest restrictions on people leaving their homes, working from home is bound to leave many feeling isolated and lonely. Our community host Joanne Lunt has the following recommendations to keep your team motivated together:

Exercise – whether you follow an online fitness class at home or go out for a walk, run or cycle in your local area, exercise will benefit your physical and mental health.

Virtual team catch-ups  – if you’re missing the team culture, set up a daily video call for you and your staff to stay up to date with how they’re getting on. It also gives everyone a chance to raise any concerns or discuss the current situation in further detail.

Take regular breaks – getting headspace away from your desk is crucial, so be sure to take regular breaks. This could be for a morning cup of coffee or your daily lunch break, but it’s important that you don’t look at anything work-related to avoid burning out.

16th March 2020

As thousands of small businesses face a battle for survival amid COVID-19, we have been closely monitoring daily government announcements for support available to businesses. The announcements so far have seen an unprecedented package of government-backed and guaranteed loans and grants to support businesses, and the Chancellor has promised that he will continue to implement these drastic measures for as long as it takes.

If you’re a business, small or large, and want to know what support is available to you, here’s a quick summary of what has been confirmed so far by the government.

Combined with our previous announcements on public services and business support, our planned economic response will be one of the most comprehensive in the world – Rishi Sunak

For a full breakdown of the latest government announcements please visit the official government website. 

Loans for businesses

An initial total of £330 billion of government-backed guarantees, equivalent to 15% of the UK’s GDP, will be made available to any business who needs access to funding to help pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers, or purchase stock on attractive terms.

The new Business Interruption Loan Scheme previously offered up to £5 million to businesses, with no interest in the first six months. The Government has since revised these terms and increased the interest-free period to 12 months, further extending the buffer period for businesses.

To provide cashflow support to businesses, it has been announced that the next quarter of VAT payments has been deferred. Businesses will now have until the end of the 2020-2021 tax year to pay any liabilities from the deferral period.

Getting through this will require a collective national effort, with a role for everyone to play – people, businesses and government. – Rishi Sunak

Small business support

Rishi Sunak has announced that grants of £10,000 will be available to businesses eligible for small business rate relief. This will provide 700,000 small business with significant support to keep their business going during these challenging times.

Small and medium-size businesses will also be able to seek reimbursement for the cost of statutory sick pay. Local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of these measures. Furthermore, for businesses with 250 employees or less, the government will refund the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee in full, providing 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.

Wages support

To prevent redundancies, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme will see the HMRC reimbursing 80% of relevant wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, allowing UK employers to continue to pay a percentage of their employees’ wages and thus, avoid redundancies. The scheme will backdate to 1st March 2020 and is open for an initial three-month period, with the possibility of extension.

Today I can announce that, for the first time in our history, the government is going to step in and help to pay people’s wages. – Rishi Sunak

Business in the Retail and Hospitality sectors

Business in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are among some of the worst hit. Businesses operating in these industries will no longer have to pay business rates this year and companies with a rateable value of below £51,000 will receive an additional cash crop of up to £25,000 per business to support them during this crisis.

Contractor/Self-employed support

Self-employed workers can now access universal credit at a rate of £94.25 per week, equivalent to the rate of statutory sick pay. You can also defer your self-assessed tax payments until next year.

One of the major announcements for contractors and the self-employed was the postponement of IR35 which was due to come into force on 6th April 2020. Due to the on-going crisis, this has been postponed to April 2021, offering comfort to many workers who were likely to be affected by these legislative changes.

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