Pavlina Wilkin, Professional Development Expert at Corndel
Last week was intensive for my clients and learners and each one-to-one touched on Covid-19 in some way. I work with Apprentices managing front-line services on behalf of the NHS, facilitating transport networks, procuring vital Personal Protective Equipment and in roles that are in some way impacted by the virus. They are all leading teams that are adjusting to a new way of working and managing exceptionally well at this time of uncertainty. Hearing about their personal commitment and resilience has been humbling.
As the working week came to close on Thursday, and we looked forward to a long weekend, 78 members of Corndel joined the second Corndel ‘wine online’ video call. Colleagues dialled in from their gardens, living rooms and kitchens, amongst their trinkets, art, books and guitars. Some were joined by their children.
After a few words from our CEO, Sean (and owner of three electric guitars), a check on colleagues’ choice of drink and plans for the Easter and Passover weekend, we competed in a game to match a selection of Corndel pets to their owner which doubled as an empirical study into the question, ‘Do pets resemble their owners?’ The answer being a resounding, ‘Yes they do!’ (please note the photo of my greyhound, Jess).
Before the call, I had wondered if any kind meaningful conversation would be possible in this context. The truth was that the conversation was fragmented and silly, and all the better for it. We laughed, joked, used the chat function to make quips and talked about each other’s decor. After the endless news cycle, the intensity of one-to-ones and given we all had our own worries to some degree, the ‘small talk’ was welcome.
Reflecting on the call afterwards it struck me how much value and meaning there was in the small talk and silliness. At Corndel we are well supported by connected and sensitive line managers and senior team, a buddy group and close colleagues to whom we can reach out at any time and who are naturally good listeners. We can access specialist support through an Employee Assistance Programme.
The online session is another strand to Corndel’s well-being approach. It provides a space for us to be in the presence of others and that is a powerful thing.