Whitley Stimpson life in lockdown

Jun 8, 2021

Now that it’s been over a year since the UK’s first lockdown, we thought we’d reflect on the year we’ve had.

Back at the start of April 2020 we introduced ‘The Whitley Weekly’ to keep our employees informed and supported. And thanks to the contributions from our employees, this continues to be shared every week.

Our people enjoy hearing what their colleagues are up to each week and their experience of the first lockdown, so we thought we’d share some of these contributions below.

Jennifer Ricketts-Gregory’s experience of lockdown


I think the transition to working from home was difficult for everyone at first but once we’d all had chance to set up properly it worked well (Big thanks to the IT team for their input)! It’s been a very busy few months, it seems as though the lockdown has inspired a lot of our clients to catch up with the dreaded paperwork meaning that we have had just as much, if not more, work in! As a team we have made the most of Teams and phone calls to keep in touch and support each other as best we can. We were forced to modernise some working practices which has been a big change but a good one! The team have come up with intuitive ways of presenting their work digitally and we’re hoping we might be able to save some trees going forward as a result!

What have you enjoyed about lockdown?

Despite the restrictions, seemingly never-ending gloomy news and changes I think some good has come from this lockdown. Not being able to make plans ahead of time has forced us to slow down a bit and find time to do things that we wouldn’t have before. I have been finding more time to exercise, read and get back into baking. I even dug out my old camera last weekend for our trip to the Forest of Dean, trying to remember what all the buttons and settings do was a bit of a challenge, but it was nice to have a go after a few years. We’ve been using the increased flexibility to try new recipes, cook together and we’ve even made a start on the garden.


What has been harder during lockdown?

I have found it really difficult not being able to see family and friends during the lockdown. As a fairly sociable person this was a big change for me and took some getting used to! As Patch and I were both working from home we were finding it a bit difficult to separate work and home in the evenings as one of us was always set up on the dining table in the living room. It has given us the shove we needed to officially turn on of the bedrooms into an office though so our project this weekend is building the flatpack desk we’ve ordered which seems to have arrived in two very large boxes! Wish us luck!

Flatpack furniture

Is there anything that you would take out of lockdown and keep doing?

I’m hoping to carry on making a bit more of weekday evenings. We’ve found that working from home has meant we don’t have that ‘just got in from work’ lull in the evenings. Instead, we get out for a walk, visit friends in the garden or cook a new recipe! I know the phrase ‘work-life balance’ has been used a lot in the last few weeks but I think it really has improved and hope it continues into the future.

Nicky Hicks’ experience of lockdown


This was a big learning curve for us at the beginning of lockdown. We became more reliant on the IT department to make sure that our remote access was working efficiently to allow us to do our job effectively from home. This was perhaps hardest for the trainees in our office, as they had been used to asking queries of whoever was around. Whilst they were still able to ask us questions via Teams and on the ‘phone, it was a different way of learning for them.

We felt that the best way for us to deal with this as an office was to apply a ‘buddy system’ so that each trainee was assigned their own manager who they would speak to regarding any work they needed, or assistance required with jobs etc. Not only did this mean that everyone was assigned a ‘buddy’, but also that nobody was feeling left out.

We’ve felt that it has been crucial to maintain communication with everyone during this time, which is why we’ve also tried to have as many team meetings as possible. We’ve had these via Zoom and also managed to squeeze in a ‘socially distanced’ team meeting at The Rye, which (I think) everyone enjoyed!

What have you enjoyed about lockdown?

Anyone who has spoken to me will know that I am thoroughly enjoying working from home! It’s given me so much more flexibility with my working hours and meant that I haven’t had the ‘dreaded commute’ on a daily basis!

It’s also given us more time in the evenings, so we have managed to finally finish our bathroom and are now just about to start the lounge!!!

We’ve also made the most of the garden and bought a new paddling pool (practically Olympic size) and a new fire pit! We’ve had a couple of outdoor cinema nights and even got a bit wet (ok VERY WET!) doing some canoeing down our local river!! The extra time we’ve had has meant that we have been able to do the things that we don’t generally get a chance to do.

Outdoor cinema   

What has been harder during lockdown?

Right at the beginning of lockdown I found it difficult not being able to see family and friends. We usually spend each weekend (and most evenings) out and about with friends and family and so not being able to do this was a big lifestyle change for us at the beginning.

Netball is STILL cancelled (feels like a billion years) so I’m eagerly waiting for this to resume, although the latest guidance we’ve received suggests that this will be some point after the autumn.

Is there anything that you would take out of lockdown and keep doing?

Knowing that I am not the next Nigella Lawson, but the cooker can be my friend! We haven’t been eating out nearly as much (because we haven’t been allowed to!!) and so have brushed the cobwebs off the oven and have been cooking more at home! We did try a ‘chocolate pizza’ with a box of milk tray and despite getting a smidge burnt, it did prove that chocolate can make anything taste better!

I feel as though my ‘work – life’ balance has massively improved and would like to keep working from home to some extent when everyone returns to the ‘new normal’. Not that I don’t miss my Castle Street gang, but it has given me so much more time during the week!

Chocolate Pizza

Ian Parker’s experience of lockdown


Monday 23rd March, when lockdown began, seems a lifetime ago now and I honestly believe that these last five months will have changed the way that we work forever.

I feel very lucky that our team reacted brilliantly to lockdown and with the help of our IT department we were all fully functional from home almost overnight. The immediate challenge when lockdown began was managing the audit that we were currently on and switching mid-way through to doing it remotely rather than onsite. Again, the entire audit team adapted and despite various challenges with getting information, managed to complete the audit very well.

Since then we have been extremely busy with lots of ‘firsts’ but one that stands out is having to undertake various stocktakes virtually, with members of the clients staff walking around factories holding a phone whilst on a video call to us so that we could watch from our Banbury Board Room – it was certainly better than most Saturday night tv!!

We also managed to overcome broadband difficulties because a member of our team had her house moving date changed due to Covid but, of course, this couldn’t be changed by BT. So, what did we do…. We spoke to our IT team and I believe that John put on his cape and flew a 4G box over to the Cotswolds to keep the team working.

Whilst some of our team have thrived with working from home and continue to do so, we also had a number of staff who wanted to return to the office as soon as it was possible to do so. They have handled this very well and managed to adhere to the one-way system around the office (far better than I have!).

We look forward to the coming weeks and the transition to returning to the office.

What have you enjoyed about lockdown?

For me, the best thing has been the increased time at home with the family. Prior to lockdown, I was quite often at work before Theo was really up in the morning and then had half an hour with him when I got home (if I was lucky and running on time).


We have changed our routine at home and Lauren prepares the main cooked meal for lunchtime, so I get a shout when it is ready, and it has been lovely to watch Theo develop and throw his food around the room. He can now get it to hit the far wall! Of course, the best bit is that after the dining room has been pebble dashed, I invariably have an ‘unavoidable’ work meeting and am able to disappear and leave the carnage behind!

Seriously, it has been great to see Theo develop over these months and spend more time with him at a point where he is changing almost every single day. Through lockdown he has learnt to walk and said his first word ‘Mama’ (although we are ignoring that!), I now know what people mean when they say, ‘the grow up so fast!’.

What has been harder during lockdown?

For me, the hardest thing has been to be strict and not just log in later on in the evening or first thing in the morning. There is always something to do and it is very easy when the computer is all set up to think that I could just log in and do that quickly.

The other thing has been the diet, we haven’t eaten rubbish, but I seem to just graze when I am at home. This gave me a problem when we agreed to start return to the office in that I didn’t have any work trousers that still fitted me! Soooo, the diet is now well underway to avoid having to return without trousers on!

Is there anything that you would take out of lockdown and keep doing?

I will seriously think about how I hold client meetings in the future and whether they are physical or virtual meetings.

I have really noticed the difference and efficiency to holding meetings virtually and saving the travel time particularly for meetings in London etc. has been incredibly valuable. Plus, it might save some Polar Bears!

Maureen Prior’s experience of lockdown


What I missed most working at home was the social aspect of going out to work. Not seeing the colleagues I work with, not only sharing with them work queries but exchanging what is going on in our lives. I missed seeing their smiling faces. We did manage to keep in touch socially through Zoom etc. Thanks to Stuart who organised quizzes and Marie who organised a Scavenger hunt, which was great fun and certainly had us laughing together. Working from home was very straightforward thanks to Damon for idiot proof instructions on how to log on remotely. My husband Kevin works from home, we converted our old garage many years ago, so I already had full office equipment.

What have you enjoyed about lockdown?

At the beginning with more time on our hands, Kevin and I made silly videos (making fun of exercise) which were put on Facebook to entertain our friends and family. We had lots of texts saying how they had laughed and were looking forward to more.

Like most of the Whitley Stimpson staff we spent a lot of time in the garden which is unheard of as neither of us have green fingers, laid a patio, enjoyed sitting outside reading in glorious weather and we went cycling every day. We kept in touch with family and friends through WhatsApp & Zoom and took part in weekly quizzes.

What has been harder during lockdown?

Not being able to hold the grandchildren. Our granddaughters are 4 years and just turned 1 year old. We did wave to them through their window on our cycling trips in the beginning, but that was hard not being able to give them a cuddle. Our grandsons live in Eynsham just a little too far for us to cycle to wave. They are 4 years & 3 years, so it was a long time not seeing them except on Facetime.

Is there anything that you would take out of lockdown and keep doing?

It would be great to say we would like to continue with the cycling, but now things are getting busy again, there does not seem to be enough hours in the day, and I am certainly a good weather cyclist only.

Starting a new job at Whitley Stimpson during COVID-19