Great Britain

There’s an inherent loneliness to working from home — I miss going into an office

THIS week, a strange feeling came over me.

Whether it’s all this talk of back to school or the whiff of a passing Pret baguette, who knows, but I realised that I missed going into an office.

This is not a statement I ever thought I’d make. I’ve been WFH since most people thought it was a euphemism for “can’t be arsed to come in” (not entirely inaccurate in my case).

When I left my last desk job many years ago, I would sing the praises of a permanent “OOO”.

I’d watch commuters pass my window in the morning (when I’d normally still be in bed) and think: “Suckers!”

I would smugly eat the lavish lunch I’d made, remembering the pre-packaged sandwich I used to blow seven quid on and snarf down aldesko.

But now that the world and his Wi-Fi are all working from home, I no longer feel special. Perhaps this is why I’ve started to hanker after a nine-to-five again.

It seems I’m in the minority on this one. Only 34% of UK workers were back in business last month, compared to an average of 68% in the rest of Europe.*

There was a collective eye-roll when Jeremy Hunt urged people to get back to the “fizz” and “excitement” of offices, like he was the government’s answer to David Brent, in a shinier suit.

Then there were the much-mocked Dettol adverts, which aimed to make us all nostalgic for our workplaces by listing “Caffeine-filled air… Seeing your second family… Proper bants.” Just no.

Although offices get a bad rap, I have fond memories of my stints in the cubicle farm.

Where else can you mingle with people of all ages, races, backgrounds and tastes in music?

I made some friends for life (and a fifth of Brits meet their partner at work**), but it’s the colleagues I’d never see outside of the office that I miss the most.

They offered a different perspective, whether it was a chat about Brexit while waiting for a coffee, or gossiping about Kim Kardashian’s contouring in the toilets.

There’s an inherent loneliness to working from home, and I think wistfully of the days when everyone huddled around a warm bottle of prosecco and a Colin the Caterpillar cake (it was always somebody’s birthday/last day/a Friday).

I feel for the younger generation, who, pre-pandemic, were excitedly entering the workplace for the first time

And there’s just no replicating the after-work drinks in a pub that smells weird, where after a few wines you’d all let rip about that colleague.

You’re all in it together, like soldiers in the trenches but armed only with stale crisps and a Happy Hour deal.

I feel for the younger generation, who, pre-pandemic, were excitedly entering the workplace for the first time and are now WFH in house-shares.

I have skills that I could only have learned by working in an office, hungrily sucking up the know-how of more experienced colleagues.

It’s all got me thinking of ways I could recreate the daily grind at home.

Install a vending machine? Get my boyfriend to dress up as the hot maintenance man? Stand up for an hour at the beginning and end of every work day, hanging off my shower rail like I’m on the Tube?

Although many people have said that Covid-19 has changed the working landscape forever, I’m pretty sure that we’ll all come whistling back to work eventually.

After all, it’s only 12 weeks until the office Christmas party. Novelty Rudolph face masks probably not optional.

This week I’m…

Reading… The Shift
Journalist Sam Baker’s honest and witty account of life post-40 makes for essential reading at any age.

Lighting… CNDL
These chic, hand-poured candles look a lot more expensive than they are, because who wants to burn money?

Obsessed with… Airbrush Bronzer
Charlotte Tilbury’s shell compact is the next best thing to going on holiday.

I quit my £18k bank job to earn £80k as an adult model but some family members disowned me

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