2020: A Year in Review

Though the last 12 months posed huge challenges for small and medium-sized businesses, there were some good news stories at Perseverance Works. Works Post looks back at some of the positive moments to emerge from the pandemic, including online yoga, getting to know new tenants  and improvements in recycling.

Tenants launched exciting new ventures in lockdown

For some of our tenants, furlough gave them the time and space to make their ideas a reality. Take Mari, social media co-ordinator at Splice. With all of us at home trying to make our environment as welcoming as possible, what better time to launch a candle business? We caught up with Mari to learn more about IDU Candles.


“I had been making candles for a couple of months, but when the pandemic hit and together with furlough, candle making is what kept me busy. I work at Splice and at Splice we have a great sustainability ethos, one that has inspired me greatly, so I knew that if I launched IDU candles, it had to be well thought through and environmentally conscious. All IDU candles are hand made from top to bottom, all ingredients sources as locally as possible and sent out in a recyclable plastic free packaging. Some people meditate, for me making candles is a meditation or maybe even therapy. With the world being locked down, candle making fills a lot of my free time, and it has really helped me keep sane in these crazy times.”

Covid production guidelines meant socially distanced shoots went ahead

In June, the Association of Photographers’ released guidelines for those shooting still and moving images during the pandemic. These guidelines were based on those produced by the APA to enable production companies to protect the health and safety of everyone on set during the pandemic. We published a summary of these guidelines to help PW tenants organise secure shoots that adhered to the strict social distancing rules in place.

The guidelines released the industry to start working again. Works Post caught up with Ben Carter, Locations Manager and long-time friend of Perseverance Works to discuss how shoots are changing as they operate under these new restrictions.

‘The broadband infrastructure is what’s really important now,’ says freelancer Ben. With the client often unable to attend the shoot and directors having to direct remotely, the tech infrastructure has to be robust to support this new way of working, affecting the usual running of a shoot. ‘On some occasions, it has made the workflow simpler, but for some shoots, you’ve got rooms within rooms within rooms on your Zoom call and it gets much more complicated,’ he adds. And flexibility is key; Ben has seen important members of a production team drop out of shoots at the last minute to self-isolate, with replacements having to join at the last minute.

Judging by the shoots going on in PW, the market is changing; there are of course fewer shoots, but those who are able to shoot on location are bigger household names. Ben agrees that a shift is underway: ‘I’m busy, but the nature of the work is changing.’

Aside from the technical infrastructure, it’s quickly become clear that councils have a part to play in supporting the industry back onto its feet given the extra space requirements of a Covid-safe shoot. ‘We need more time from the client for planning, and for councils to be more helpful with regards to extra parking allowance, street closures, that sort of thing, Some councils have been much more risk averse than others, but truthfully they should be glad people are able to film!,’ he adds.

Josh Jones of jj Media agrees that the guidelines coupled with the advice of external advisors have been a lifeline for the industry. ‘During the first lockdown we spent a considerable amount of time with external advisors understanding how we could re-open in a safe manner. Adhering to guidelines is paramount in ensuring clients can create content safely,’ he explains. Thanks to the tech infrastructure in place, the business has been able adjust its offering: ‘Our ability to scale up or down across our 25,000 sq ft facility, coupled with our ability to connect teams globally through our network has made content creation a possibility even with remote teams.’


Online yoga kept the PW community together

Though Kate and Jamie started the year leading face-to-face yoga classes, the pandemic pushed their classes online. Below, Kate picks out her highlights of online yoga last year.

“We had 9 in person lunchtime yoga classes at Perseverance Works before the pandemic struck in full force…after a one week break, we bounced back with yoga classes on Zoom. At the time, I remember it feeling very strange to teach online, and I imagine it felt odd to the yogis as well! But by the end of the year, and after Jamie and I taught a total of 78 digital classes it feels like second nature.

In late April, we added a Monday evening class and in the autumn we trialled a morning class, before eventually settling on the evening class as the preferred slot for most yogis.

For me, a highlight of the year was in June, when we jointly raised more than £1,250 pounds for charities in Minneapolis following the Black Lives Matter protests. This was matched by Atelier Ten, doubling the contributions.

The Zoom classes have been joined by yogis from all over London, the wider UK, Minneapolis, USA and beyond, bringing together a larger community than we could have had otherwise. All in all, we had 729 attendees over the course of 2020 in our online yoga classes.”


We met new tenants and delved into the history of longstanding ones


Having moved to PW in late 2019, Caeli Nova didn’t have long at PW before the onset of the pandemic saw most businesses start working from home. So, in September, Works Post caught up with CEO Tim Wakeford to learn more about the business, which stands at the intersection of medical technology and aerospace.

With its creative strengths in the engineering space, Caeli Nova extends the range of creativity at PW and will no doubt add to the ideas that arise over coffee in the courtyard. Indeed, the outdoor space and atmosphere were one of the major attractions of PW when they visited the site for the first time last summer.

“We always wanted that kind of community. You get a community in some of the co-working spaces, but this feels a bit more grown up,” explains Tim, who says the very early stage businesses in co-working spaces had a different work ethic. Caeli Nova’s longer term lease allows the business to really commit to growth and transition into a later stage venture.

We also heard from Jack Crisfield, who wrote an article examining the evolution of The Sculpture Factory since the 1980s, via international travel, cruise ships and a large sculpture of Alfred Hitchcock’s head! Early collaborations with important artists like Eduardo Paolozzi positioned The Sculpture Factory at the intersection of sculpture and engineering.

We learned our tap water is as good as bottled water!

In 2019, Professor Darren Reynolds and Dr Gillian Clayton from the Centre of Research in Biosciences at the University of the West of England visited Perseverance Works to test the quality of our tap water. Water samples were collected by the academics for analysis by an independent accredited drinking water laboratory: Wessex Water, in Bristol. Three taps were used for the analysis, in Units 18, 19 and 21.

The water hardness, microbiological, chemical and metallic quality of the water were analysed by the lab and the results confirmed that the water adhered to UK drinking water standards and were comparable to samples provided by leading bottled water brands Evian and Smartwater! You can view The Perseverance Works Water Report here.

There is therefore no need for plastic water bottles to be brought onsite. With this knowledge in mind, we desperately need to do more to reduce the plastic problem. Even today, just 9% of all the plastic ever produced has been recycled, according to our recyclers. To find out more about the ways plastic pollutes our oceans and rivers, check out this post from Paper Round.

Recycling levels improved by 7%

Following the visit from Professor Reynolds and Dr Clayton, our recycling figures went up by 7%. Keen to see that number rise again, we spoke to our recycling company Paper Round, who gave us some tips for reducing our carbon footprint even further.

More ways to improve your carbon footprint

  • Bulk-buying toilet paper seems to be all the rage, so why not sign up for deliveries of 100% recycled loo roll? Who Gives A Crap delivers tree-free toilet paper straight to your door, and donates 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. It also arrives without any plastic packaging. To get £5 off your first order, follow this link.
  • Get rid of your unwanted electrics with WeeeCharity, who will pick up electrical items and recycle them free of charge. If you are interested in this service, please contact Paul who is organising a collection date.
  • Look out for the battery recycling box now installed in the Security Hut.
  • Instead of taking a cab or public transport, why not use the PW bikes to get to your next meeting? These will soon be available free of charge to all tenants at Perseverance Works.

Paper Round also drew our attention to the major legislative changes to come in the first quarter of this year, which will have a huge impact on the way we deal with recycling. We therefore need to get our businesses ready to meet higher targets and more separation of waste and to help us do just that, Paper Round recorded a webinar introducing these changes and explaining what building managers can do to tackle these recycling issues. They have also partnered with an AI company and Middlesex University to see how robotics can detect and remove plastics from mixed waste streams.