There was even a queue for the Barista!
It was April 2021 when I started to gradually return to the office. That first day felt strangely exciting – the prospect of getting on a train to Central London, nodding to people on the platform (but never engaging in conversation) and positioning myself for optimum train door-opening. The journey in was a pleasure with very quiet trains and seats for all with even a place for my bag next to me – normally unheard of. I was genuinely happy to be seeing my colleagues again (some for the first time) without a funky Zoom background. However, the rules of engagement had changed.
Whilst working in a co-working space, not only do you need to be clear on your own firm’s covid-safe guidelines, but you also have to be respectful of others. Face coverings on in communal areas, two people per lift, sanitise on entry and follow the arrows. I was fine with all of that as it makes sense. It was nice to see the friendly Barista (now protected with what seemed like bullet-proof perspex) listening to his podcast. The usual salutations ensued, and I ordered my coffee (oat latte if you’re buying). I was only his 10th customer that day: we shared podcast recommendations and I commenced my journey to the office following the arrows like a good citizen.
Masked-up, sanitised and coffee in hand I saw a figure walking towards me, our eyes met, we nodded and then had an odd peacock dance moment trying to walk past each other, giving a wide berth and acknowledging we are both mutually respectful of personal space in this new future world. I made it to my office, and it felt good (the coffee tasted even better).
It’s been an interesting few months returning to the office gradually but regularly. There is certainly no pressure to do this but I enjoy routine so I decided to make Wednesdays and Fridays my regular office days—and it’s been a pleasure to see people return. It seems that I enjoy getting ready to go to the office, dusting down a blazer, spraying on some nice Eau de Parfum and using the journey time to clear my head, or listen to a podcast – something I don’t do when working from home. I’ve also been enjoying the vibe and buzz when milling around the co-working space, looking for a booth to take a confidential call, or finding a sofa to have a co-worker catch up.
Fast-forward to Sept 2021, and it’s definitely busy again. Given that we have a successful vaccination programme in the UK, people are returning to offices in their droves. No more peacock dancing but people do give that extra couple of inches as they walk past. Redundant sanitiser stations are still in situ as a nod to the bleak 18-months previous. The arrows are still on the floor but no one-way system in place anymore, and last Thursday there was even a queue for the Barista!