Today marks the one year anniversary of the last day that I spent in my office at work.
At the time, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be returning for a year––a year and counting. In fact, if anyone had said to me on that day a year ago that this would be the last time that I would see my desk for the next twelve months, I would have told them that they were crazy.
I had been coming to the same place of work for over twenty-five years; my routine was set in stone; the future stretched ahead of me a carbon copy of the past I had left behind.
Now, I might have believed it if someone had said on that fateful day that I wouldn’t be coming to the office the following day. In fact, I would have agreed with them. I had a training course to attend, which was going to temporarily shake me out of my habitual routine. I might even have believed it if someone had said that I wouldn’t be coming to the office for the next couple of weeks, because following on from my training course, I had two weeks’ annual leave booked, which I duly took.
At the end of my annual leave, I was fully intending to return to work but, because I was returning from a destination that was already experiencing a number of coronavirus cases, I queried with my manager whether I should spend two weeks working from home in voluntary self-isolation, which was agreed, and then, by the time my self-isolation was over, the entire country was in its first lockdown.
And I have not returned to the office again since.
I have been very fortunate to be able to work from home during the pandemic. I have missed some things about not going into the office––the casual meeting of colleagues in corridors; lunchtime drinking; the clear delineation of workplace and home––but there have been plenty of others that I have not––the commute; boring sandwich lunches; the sterility of the open plan.
A year away from the office, and I now find the prospect of returning to it, at some unspecified date in the future, rather alarming. I have now settled into a new routine of working, which has begun to become every bit as established as my old one had. On the whole, I think that I prefer it.
If nothing else, the enforced changes to people’s lives caused by the pandemic will have given a lot of people an opportunity to think and reassess their circumstances, not just in the workplace, but in life generally; just because things have always been one way before, doesn’t mean that they need remain the same way in the future.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree makes a bold attempt to embrace change, but fails.