Chief Operating Officer, Robert Kerse on the opening of the Staff Lounge in Royal Fort House

Opening the reception rooms in Royal Fort House as a staff lounge is a way to say thank you to each member of staff for their contribution to making our university a world class institution. Our hope is that it will be a welcoming, new space at the heart of the campus, for you to enjoy and feel is your own. A space to relax, read a book, grab a coffee and have informal meetings with colleagues and visitors.

I wanted to provide an update now to let you know how the project is progressing and give you a feel for what to expect when it opens.

In the consultation meetings about the Staff Lounge, the staff who took part told us they wanted a modern, not stuffy, feel and this has been challenging in a Grade 1 listed building! Our aim has been to get the right balance between looking after the building and being sympathetic to the heritage, whilst making it a valuable space for staff. So, we’ve refreshed the existing decorative scheme and put in comfy furniture.

We hope that the Staff Lounge will be a quiet space without mobile phones and laptops and so it won’t be a place for New Ways of Working. It will be open to everyone, all day, so it isn’t for meetings either but can be booked for evening events.

To enable us to open the space to staff as soon as possible, we’ve carried out a rapid refresh and it isn’t yet perfect – so please bear with us on a couple of things;

  • As a Grade 1 listed building we’re having to make a Listed Building Application for a ramp and Ucard access at the front. So, when we open, access will be via the rear garden door where there is an existing ramp. The accessibility provision currently isn’t up to the standard we would like, and we are working hard to resolve this.
  • When we open on 30 October the catering won’t be the full service we plan to offer from mid-November onwards, but we promise there will be tea, coffee and light refreshments available.

I see this first phase in the Staff Lounge as an opportunity to find out more about what staff want in the space and your feedback will inform what we do next. So please share your ideas on Yammer, or in the feedback boxes in Royal Fort House and we’ll also have a formal review in four months’ time. Your feedback is hugely important to us because it will inform the Listed Building consent application we make for future changes.

Our university is our people and so it is right that our staff are at its heart, with access to the best space that hasn’t been fully utilised in recent years. The Staff Lounge in Royal Fort House is just the start of the positive changes in the heart of the campus and I hope that it becomes somewhere we can be proud of, a new space that’s away from the day to day pressures of university life and a place for us to rest and recharge.