When you started working from home, did you think you’d be back to “brainstorm debrief meetings”, jokes by the coffee machine and the canteen lasagne by now? Well, as our return edges closer, maybe it’s time for a few reminders about office life. Do you miss the office just a little bit, quite a bit, insanely so, or not at all? Here’s our list of everything you might be looking forward to (or not)…
What we’re looking forward to
1. A real office.
Like a lot of people, your “office” is limited to a computer delicately balanced on a coffee table and a pile of books? Have you already tripped over your charger cable three times, stretched to its maximum length across your living room? Just hold on, you’ll be reunited with your ergonomic chair and favourite pen holder soon enough. Your cat’s the one who might be disappointed though. He’s got used to walking on your keyb…dqisfgpa!’fjy.
2. Your work buddy.
He covered for you when you jammed the printer in your first week and you’ve been inseparable ever since. He’s your Laurel, you’re his Hardy. Your colleagues suspect you communicate telepathically and three hours rarely pass without them hearing the pair of you giggle for a reason that only you know. The good news is that thanks to obligatory masks, you’ll be able to hide your cheeky grins more easily.
3. Conversations about something other than Covid.
Of course you don’t cut off the colleague who, as an accountant, is now a self-proclaimed epidemiologist sharing her most far-fetched coronavirus theories (“Yes, intravenous Tabasco works, Trump said so”). You know it won’t last. You’ll soon be back to the usual topics of conversation: the canteen menu, the weather, the best Netflix series and the trainees’ latest screw-ups.
4. The coffee breaks.
A hotbed of gossip and a nerve centre of information, work breaks with colleagues let you find out everything going on in the company, including scandal about the cute guy on the second floor. (“Guess what, I heard he was in lockdown with the girl from marketing!”) Especially since you’ll have several weeks to catch up on. Who was working on what? Who was chatting with whom? So many mysteries to solve, my dear Watson.
5. A bit of decency. This lockdown was a blip in your adult life. You could wear pyjamas all day, try out ridiculous hairstyles, let your greasy skin shine and your hair grow out, and even wear the same underwear two days in a row. Deep down, you know you can’t wait to look like your Instagram photos once more and regain some semblance of dignity.
That’s not all. Soon you’ll be back to having a fast and stable internet connection, a few (or more) afterwork drinks, renewed motivation (strongly influenced by your boss’s presence), as well as being reunited with your favourite colleagues (and the others). You’ll be back to normal office life in no time.
What we’re not looking forward to so much
1. Rush hour.
Ah, the gentle sound of beeping horns and the sweet scent of your tortured fellow commuters. Does that bring back memories? Whether you drive to work or take public transport, it’s hard to forget these small, unpleasant aspects of daily life. Perhaps the “hygiene rules” and “social distancing” will make this experience less unpleasant?
2. The neon strip lights in the toilets.
The unforgiving mirror in the office loo will be happy to remind you of your lazy (erm, nonexistent) lockdown skincare regime that has left you with oily skin, unsightly spots and eye bags. Not to mention a pasty complexion after two months in lockdown that could land you a role as an extra in the next Twilight film.
3. The canteen.
Sure, after weeks of macaroni with Nutella, a bit of variety will do you good. And it’ll (maybe) help you fit into your trousers again. However, the prospect of getting back into the usual 10-minute queue to wind up eating a tasteless mozzarella and tomato salad, while enjoying a breathtaking view of your colleague Anthony’s wisdom teeth may not be all that enticing. We totally get it.
4. Lame—and sometimes misogynistic—jokes from certain colleagues.
You worry about the effect of lockdown measures on your colleague Robert. Even more so since you saw the latest Michael McIntyre DVD in the background during a video conference call. He’ll annoy you at every turn. So, yes, going back to work means the return of your “comedian” colleagues, too.
9AM brainstorming session; 11AM, debriefing reports. Oops, it’s midday already and you haven’t done any work yet. Oh well, you’ll do it this afternoon because now it’s time to hit the canteen and get your tomato mozzarella salad early to avoid the queue.
Maybe deep down you’re excited about getting back to the office so that you can leave it just as quickly at the end of the day? Let’s not forget, there’s also a good chance that the main subject of discussion when you get back will be… everyone’s summer holiday. Long live our love/hate relationship with office life.
Translated by Kalin Linsberg
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