Released On 7th Jun 2021
Ally's blog: Your back-to-the-office training programme
At one point the declaration was made that the office was dead - long live WFH! But no sooner did we adjust to that than - hey-ho - the office has been resurrected. Apparently even Google are saying their staff will have to go into the office regularly, so if Google are saying it and not just certain City dinosaurs who wouldn’t even allow you to wear brown shoes in town, it must be true.
Some readers may well already be embracing the return to the office. If you have children under the age of 5 at home and means of escape, I wouldn't blame you for pitching up to the office every single day, just for the peace and quiet and possibly a quick nap under the desk. I, however, have settled into the routine of home-working now and feel I need to adjust my mind-set ready for a return to the office. For anyone else in the same boat, here’s my check list of things I need to get used to before I can leave the comfort of the spare bedroom/office:
Wearing shoes – ahhh - I remember the days when I was well known for my fabulous collection of LK Bennett kitten heels. My single mid-pandemic visit to the office did give me the opportunity to collect my office stash of shoes but who knows where they are gathering dust in the house now. And will I be like one of Cinderella's ugly sisters, trying to squeeze my home-spread toes into them? I now live in a pair of furry Birkenstocks (known outside fashion circles as “slippers”) - are these suitable office attire in the new normal?
Laptop lugging - I’m starting a fitness programme this week – to practice I will need to walk at least 90 minutes a day with a heavy laptop rucksack on my back, finishing with a frantic 10 minute sprint as I realise that I have once again been over optimistic in my time allowance for the Northern Line, and that the after school club will be closing and throwing my daughters out on to the street in exactly 2 minutes.
Remembering colleagues’ names - I’m terrible with names - even with people I know well - always have been, even though I used the pregnancy excuse for a few years and will soon start blaming the menopause. Complain all you like about Zoom fatigue etc, but at least everyone appears with their name written down at the bottom of their little box. Ideally I would like to recreate this aspect of video calls in the real world - everyone should walk around the office with a big name board hanging round their neck.
Finding an extra two hours in the day - I live in London for goodness sake! How on earth it still takes me an hour’s commute each way to get to the office (in London!) baffles me. Where will I find the time for that? On the plus side, I might actually get to read a few books on the journey (unless there is better WiFi now on the tube? In which case I’ll just be scrolling mindlessly)
And the biggie for working parents ..... finding childcare - who can I line up to let my little angels in the front door each evening after school and screech “shhh - I’m on a call!!” at them?? No one will match up to those high standards of parenting. All my previous childcare helpers have managed over the last 18 months to get proper jobs/move to the sticks/become full time Instagrammers. My children are probably old enough (ish) for a front door key, but seeing as I already seem to have a second full-time job in re-ordering their lost bank cards/travel cards, I have my doubts.
Good luck everyone – one day soon we'll be back in that Pret a Manger queue.
Ally is a lawyer working 3 days a week in the City (via the spare bedroom), with 2 amazing and entertaining daughters aged 10 and 13.