Introducing The Winchester Tavern; an antidote to isolation and open all hours to anyone

I’ve worked from home on and off for the best part of 20 years. It’s been a feature of almost every working week. But after just five days of isolation I was going stir crazy. I was missing the buzz of the office. From pinging ideas about to catching up with people while having a brew there was a big hole in working life.

Working from home has always worked for me because I’ve had good messaging apps on the desktop, and tools like Teams or Skype. I’ve been able to get my head down on the big pieces of work that required a day away from the office, but by using a mix of apps I’ve still been available to talk when needed.

But I realised pretty soon into isolation, I need the social interaction to make working life work for me. And I’m pretty sure just about everyone else feels this way too.

So, last week I used the tech I use at work to set up my very own virtual pub. It’s called The Winchester Tavern. It has 12 tables and on launch all of them were occupied with friends and family. We’ve gone on to run a 50-quesion pub quiz using the educational app Kahoot.

This weekend we have live music. I’m lining up karaoke for next, hoping to get some stand-up comedy going and I’m planning an Irish Pig Racing night. (It’s like a virtual horse race but funnier I’m told…)

Seven days in and I’ve adapted. And so have millions of others. Taking part in virtual choirs, yoga, art classes, baking courses, engineering – you name it you can find it. People who are on their own can be with others in a way they hadn’t considered before. I think that’s really exciting. The silver lining to this disaster is the potential to be more skilled, fitter, and more connected. Not to mention the by-product of lower emissions.

I also can’t see how this temporary solution of working from home won’t become permanent. Why would a company spend the same amount on rents and offices when people prove themselves to be reliable to manage a working day in the hours that work for them, collaborate with colleagues and yet deliver what’s expected and more?

Of course, my experience of feeling disconnected is why there are charities that are concerned about the implications of isolation. The headlines range from the impact on loneliness as not everyone – particularly older people – are connected in this technological way, through those who struggle with anxiety and it is understandably heightened right now, to those exposed to domestic violence and scammers.

That’s why as we get excited with the tech, it’s also really important to put a note through the door of a neighbour, or phone a relative more often. We need to take people with us and ensure in our hurry to keep things normal for us we don’t leave behind the more vulnerable. I appreciate it might not be easy to get them on to Facetime, but a grandchild reading a story over the phone can help provide a sense of daily purpose and connection.

If you can get them online then The Winchester is open and available to all. If you want to use it for family birthday celebrations, book clubs, school catch ups or join us for one of our events just get in touch.

I am also happy to talk you through how easy it is to set up. Just message me and I will be glad to show you how I did it. Maybe every real pub can set up a virtual one to keep their communities going!

Together we will get through this and by using technology we can ensure we are there for one another through the ups and downs that are to come.