One of the most important jobs that we do here as staff, is to ensure that our volunteers are happy and enjoying what they do for us. We do this mostly through front of house duties.
Doing front of house basically means ensuring that the house runs smoothly on a daily basis. This is a role that we split between myself, the Assistant House Steward, House Steward and House Manager.
We start off the day with a briefing. This is to update everyone, staff and volunteers, on things that are happening that day, such as if there are any groups coming or if there is a new exhibition starting. It also means that any information from other departments like the garden team, are passed on to keep everyone updated, such as updates on the Garden Revival project. We also let each volunteer know what room they are guiding in for that shift.
Once we are open, we will go around the house and see how the room guides are doing – It gives me an excuse for a quick catch up as well. We are also on hand to answer any queries or requests that the room guide feels unable to answer fully or generally lend a hand if it is busy.
Front of house does bring its own challenges especially with us being open 363 days of the year now. Often I find myself going from room to room covering tea breaks or covering the room whilst the guide goes and does an introductory talk – one of my favorite rooms to cover is the Larkspur Bedroom and Dressing Room. However this does give me the opportunity to connect with our visitors and find out what they like and dislike about the house.
Being front of house is always an interesting way to spend the day. Every day is different, with new questions, challenges and demonstrations. I always find that I learn something new, whether from a visitor, volunteer or member of staff.
Happy New Year