After three months of working from home it’s time to park the ugg boots back under the bed, reacquaint myself with respectably ironed pants and return to the office.
Over the weekend I packed my oversized monitor, laptop and Garfield mug into the family car and rehomed my working life back into its original abode. My wife, inordinately happy to have the full span of the dining table once again at her disposable, declared the house her infinite domain once again.
Standing in the empty office on the weekend, pushing a battered chair with a sheaf of client files under my arm, I felt like nothing less than a lonely survivor in a dystopian landscape, Mad Max returned to his pre-apocalypse homestead. I wiped a layer of dust off my desk phone and watered our second least incompetent paraplanner’s neglected pot plant.
I didn’t mind working from home. Everything felt a little less rushed. I could segue my way from a zoom meeting with a client to a hastily cobbled ROA in a flash, and find myself in the recliner with a cup of tea and a Robert Ludlum directly after.
Working from the living room wasn’t without issue, of course. The family ties were beginning to fray. They never tell you that the flip side of social distancing in wider society is a cloying familiarity with the humans you share space with at home. I love my kids, but my daughter has the mood stability of a schizophrenic toddler and my son produces more methane than a brahma bull full of baked beans.
I’m not foolish enough to say a word against my beloved wife, but I suspect Dierdre will rejoice at having large blocks of time away from her consort once again. I’m best served in small doses.
So here we are. Cubicles and colleagues. Swipe passes and printers and a N’espresso machine with buttons that should have been fixed years ago.
It’s not like before, though. There are a few changes that look like sticking around for the near future; we have squeegee bottles of disinfectant in every corner and our desks have been separated, handshakes are forbidden fruit and we cling to the far corners of elevators like the negative ends of magnets.
After a moment of nostalgia it was time to set up my workstation. I was on my hands and knees under the desk, awkwardly trying to feed the monitor cord through the hole when I heard the familiar sound of the office door opening.
Unaware of my presence, my fellow survivor took a few steps and paused.
“Thank God,” I heard her say. It was Mikaela, a recent recruit in client services, first year out of university.
I came out from my hidey hole, standing up with a “ho there” and a wave. She screamed.
“Sorry Mikaela,” I said. “Good to see you again.”
We chatted amiably for a few minutes. Mikaela helped me with my cables.
“So, are you glad to be back Dixon?” she asked.
I had to think about that one. I guess I was. As much as I dislike people, the truth is I like being around them. Maybe because it makes it easier to dislike them.
“I am. What about you Mikaela?”
She smiled and continued unpacking her own desk detritus from a small box.
“Yeah, it’s good to be out,” she said. “Gonna miss my ugg boots, though.”