When the first lockdown started last year, none of us really knew what to expect, did we? However, what no one could have known then was just how long it would go on for.
We’ve been ahead of the curve in this pandemic since almost everything we’ve ever done at The Coaching Revolution has been online – the only exception being our three-times-a-year meet-up in Birmingham. What this meant was that we already had a community who were used to hanging out with us online a couple of times a week.
It just so happened that at the time lockdown started, so did a group coaching programme we were running.
Five Coaching Revolution coaches and I were meeting every week for 90 minutes and being coached by the fantastic Rachel Wade. The coaching itself was amazing, but more importantly something unsettling began to emerge.
Two of the group lived alone. Both were upbeat, cheery coaches. One was extrovert, the other introvert, and both loved their lives and were happily living alone. As lockdown continued, these two became increasingly unhappy, and at one group coaching session not that far into lockdown both told us that they were being negatively impacted by the excess of alone time they were experiencing.
Not On My Watch – Lockdown Won’t Beat Us!
I am a sociable extrovert. The idea of spending weeks on my own fills me with horror. I do like alone time, but not isolation. I couldn’t bear the idea of these two lovely people being on their own hour after hour, day after day.
Enter the Zoom cafe!
I wasn’t in a position to do much about their situation really, but what I could do was to start our Zoom cafe. This was an hour from 5pm, Monday-Friday. The idea was to create the second-best thing to a face-to-face catch up. And it worked.
We met every day for an hour and just chatted. Not work related, just chat.
I had some of the best laughs of lockdown there; when two coaches were discussing the perils of online dating the rest of us were holding our sides laughing. If you ever want to know what you should and shouldn’t have on your dating profile picture, I can recommend a couple of coaches to speak to!
Our Zoom Cafe
As lockdown eased that first time, we kept the cafe going. Our Zoom cafe is a daily feature even now. We have a couple of lunchtime cafes and three 5pm ones now.
The coaches I spend time with often move from the ‘colleague’ category to the ‘friend’ category. We realised it was what coaches starting out in business miss – drinks after work with friends, we even made the Friday cafe into a ‘wine bar’ to celebrate the end of each week. The time we spend together is important, it matters to us.
Because of where they live, a couple of our coaches have been out of lockdown for fewer than a month since 23 March last year. Those coaches have told me that the cafe kept them going. They said that the fact that no matter how isolated they felt, they knew that every week day, they’d have a group fo like-minded people to chat to.
And it helped enormously.
So it will always be there, until people tell me that they don’t want it any more. That doesn’t look like it will be any time soon!