It certainly comes as no surprise that Christmas this year will be a very different affair to what we are used to! And festive traditions we either enjoy or endure in the workplace are no exception; from those potentially embarrassing boozy office parties to the sneaky trip to the pub at lunchtime on Christmas Eve, the ‘new normal’ is forcing us to re-think the whole ‘season to be jolly … careful!’ …

By Clare Benyon, Pro Drive IT Account Manager

A different type of Christmas

Personally, I’m secretly pleased to give the Christmas jumper wearing or tawdry Secret Santa gifts a miss this year (how come I ALWAYS get given Ferrero Rocher? Ghastly) . And corporate Christmas cards – pretty pointless other than providing much needed exercise when the beastly things blow on the floor every time the door is opened, or scissor practice for employee’s pre-school children.

On the other hand, some traditions will be sorely missed; I work with a glorious bunch of human beings. Nothing warms the cockles of this girl’s heart more than shedding the corporate ‘skin’ as it were and having a good old-fashioned knees-up with my amazing team. However, restrictions this year may have scuppered the party venue plans of Pro Drive, but certainly not the spirit. We simply adapted, and our festive get together over ‘Teams’ this year was enjoyable enough to produce late nights and slightly sore heads for many of us!

One area that I have found trickier to adapt is the whole idea of Corporate gifts for our wonderful customers. I really enjoy choosing the Christmas client hampers and a great deal of thought goes into them, from the colour scheme to the contents. But would it have been practical or even responsible to send such a gift this year? We’ve been extremely successful in setting up remote working for the businesses we support, and as a result many of their employees are working from home. And what of the safety implications? Would we be unintentionally spreading more than just a little Christmas cheer by sending something that could potentially encourage the fumbling’s of many different hands!

What really matters … ?

I agonised over alternative Corporate gifts, until I realised that I had lost sight of what people actually valued at this time of year. It wasn’t chocolate, a jar of fancy chutney or even a bottle of wine (although these are all jolly nice to receive – unless it’s Ferrero Rocher!) We want to feel part of something; a family, a community, a group of friends, enjoying shared traditions. Regrettably, so many in our society are denied these simple pleasures, and the COVID-19 crisis has only served to worsen an already unhappy situation for them.

Care baskets for Oakleaf charityI was particularly moved by the plight of people facing mental health issues who, even in the most prosperous of times, may be lonely, anxious and ostracized by society. In fact before the COVID 19 crisis took hold, many people in our society with mental health issues struggled to access the most basic support required to stay safe and well. But with an estimated half a million more people likely to experience mental health problems as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic, mental health charities are now facing an unprecedented demand for resources.

Sending some joy on behalf of our clients

So, what does this have to do with my lovely Christmas client hampers? Well, I want to start a trend this year. I want to ‘gift by proxy’, and I urge you to consider it for your own clients! Pro Drive IT are teaming up with the local mental health charity Oakleaf to sponsor care baskets, on behalf of our customers, that will be delivered to Oakleaf’s clients over the Christmas period.

Woking-based mental health charity Oakleaf supports hundreds of individuals struggling with mental illness, many of whom live alone or without family nearby.

In light of the pandemic, this year Oakleaf are producing and personally delivering 300 Christmas Care Baskets to those they support, showing that they are cared for and have not been forgotten— even if the charity can’t hold their traditional celebrations.

These baskets are intended as a small gesture, a way to help those who are struggling to mark the festive season at a time of year which can be particularly challenging for people suffering depression, anxiety and isolation. I can think of no better way to celebrate the goodwill and positive relationships that we enjoy with our clients this Christmas than by supporting this initiative. (OK, so there won’t be any Ferrero Rocher to share in the office … but where’s the harm in that?!).

Wishing a very happy and safe Christmas to you and all your loved ones!


If you’d like to find out more about Oakleaf and how you can support them, please visit their website.