Are you ready to return to the office?

I don’t know about you but I’m not ready to return to the office. 

First of all, the virus is still out there. The R rate is low but it’s still there.

Without a vaccine we’re relying on social distancing to minimise the spread, but going back to work in an open plan office doesn’t offer much space to socially distance from other people.

Rules are loosely in place but lines are blurred due to the mixed messages from the government.

My company hasn’t asked us back into the office yet, but I can sense it will be soon with children returning to school next week

I am grateful that I’ve been able to keep my job during lockdown and work from home (read my top tips for wfh here). It’s been an unusual experience, especially since I only joined the company in January but it’s kept me busy and with a salary, which is rare at this point in time.

Yet, currently, I wouldn’t feel safe going back to the office, getting the train to work as I used to do, or using the park and ride that goes through the Addenbrooks site, a major hospital in Cambridge. 

Equally, after 10 weeks working remotely with my team, I wonder why I need to work in an office? Why do I commute? It all seems so inefficient at this point. 

I do miss interacting with people, but I miss going to the kitchen or cafe for a cuppa and catch up about their kids, evenings, worries. I miss meeting new people from other departments.

Whilst, I do not miss my hour commute or having to sit in meetings that I shouldn’t have been invited to in the first place and idly entertain myself with emails for an hour.  

There’s also the growing question of whether the current way we work is now inefficient? Is our work model still fit for purpose?

If we could always work alongside looking after our kids or from the comfort of our own home, why has there been resistance in the past? When a good chunk of the country and the world has been successfully doing so for several months. 

There’s certainly lots of articles about it. The NY times, Forbes – everyone has been writing about it. We all feel the same.

I hope this is the beginning of a new way of working.

We could schedule meetings for specific days in the office to maximise social interaction. Then have more days working from home. Employers could and should accommodate last minute requests for appointments, childcare, spontaneous days off, emergencies, mental health days.

It’s all within reach a better work life balance, if we are willing to adapt as a society.

I’m also not mentally ready to return to the office.

I don’t feel as though I’ve done enough in lockdown or made the most of this time at home yet. It feels rushed to go from 10 weeks indoors to going back to how life was before. It’s jarring and insensitive to the crisis that has just occurred. 

How can we process that much death and heartbreak by forcing everyone back into their old routines as though nothing has happened?

My priorities have changed.

I don’t feel that two hours commuting everyday is worth it anymore. It shouldn’t be necessary to do my job well. Yet before lockdown and the corona crisis I was used to my commute, we were good friends, it was annoying, but I’d still do it.

Now I’d rather walk round the block or be in walking distance to work, than travel for two hours in a train or car. 

Our attitude to work has certainly changed.

Whether you’ve been furloughed, fired or working from home this whole time, our relationship with our jobs is different; it feels fragile, harder to find and keep, uncertain and if anything unsatisfactory now for the model of a life we’d like to build. 

How do you feel about returning to the office? Or returning to work?

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  • Hannah says:

    This lock-down has demonstrated how well companies can function whilst all of their staff are working from home and honestly, I think a lot of companies should be re-evaluating whether they require all of their staff to work from the office full-time. A lot of people’s mental health has flourished having more time to spend with their friends and family and as well as more time for themselves, whether that is because they are working from home so are around their family more or no longer have to spend over an hour commuting. Even being able to work from home 2-3 days a week would significantly improve someone’s quality of life. Especially in London, working from home could mean workers being able to move out of London into the countryside where the cost of living is cheaper and there is more green space which would significantly improve their quality of life. If workers worked from home, this could mean companies can stop paying rent on office spaces or at least downgrade their office space to pay less rent and therefore this money could be re-invested into improving employee benefits or improving their product for us, the consumers. The benefits of working from home easily outweigh those of working from an office, at least for the majority of people.

  • I really enjoyed reading this post, I’ve had a fair few office jobs now, but have never had one I’ve had to take home! I must admit I’ve fallen into a blissful routine I don’t really want to change. Small things like an extra hour in bed, better lunches and being surrounded by de-stressors. I also started my job in January so it’s been really tough at times, but I’m not ready for office life again yet.

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