It’s been a year and two months since we last sat all together in an office. It now feels like a memory in black and white from the good old days – a bit like those early photographs in grandma’s cabinet. Okay, it wasn’t that long ago, but it certainly feels like it. We have gotten used to working from home (or the beach or wherever we are) and we enjoy that flexibility and the choices we can make: We can get up at 6, dress and start working, or we can join a sports class on zoom, or we can stay in our pyjamas until lunch time and work from our beds. We can work from the dining table or the sofa and soon enough we could also go to a coffee shop around the corner if we need a change of environment or a barista coffee.
Certainly, we are looking forward to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted in the UK, to meeting and hugging friends and to go for a drink after work. 17th May is the date we have marked in our calendar – the day when we will get our “normal” lives back. But what does “normal” really mean? If the days we spent in offices like chickens in cages are a mere memory in black and white, then why would we still refer to this as “normal”? We aren’t going back to horse and carriage either, do we?
We are seeing many companies though sticking to traditions: They want their employees back in the office later this month – Are you ready?
The morning commute
Fully candid, is there anybody who ever enjoyed the morning commute? No, we don’t mean taking a train in the countryside where you certainly get a seat and enjoy your morning coffee on the 20-minute journey. We mean that type of commute where you are either stuck in traffic or stuck in between people on an overcrowded London tube. That commute where you feel like a sardine in a can, where you have backpacks poking you and strangers stepping on your feet whilst you’re trying to hold your balance without getting to close to somebody’s smelly armpit. Did anybody ever really enjoy that?
Indeed, London tubes and the roads are currently not too busy, but they are getting busier every day. Have you tried it at 8.30 a.m. or between 5 and 6 p.m.? – It’s stressful and it’s not getting any better once we all go back to our “normal” routines. Are you ready?
One thing we all look forward to are all those freetime activities we weren’t allowed to do in lockdown! In-person meetups where you share a common hobby, live music events, dance or fitness classes in studio etc. During lockdown, we all noticed that we would have had plenty of time, after all we saved ourselves an hour of commute in the morning and an hour of commute in the evenings. That is two hours per day that we could spend doing something we love or with somebody we love. Well, if you’re lucky enough you and your partner travel a few stations together into work or you get to read another chapter during your commute – if you’re not getting distracted by backpacks or armpits!
We also know many people that have taken the work-life balance to a new level in lockdown. They have moved out of the city to the countryside or closer to the sea and why wouldn’t they. If you can do your work from wherever you wanted to be, why not with a sea view? And why would you ever swap your new “normal” of spending your lunchbreak with a walk on the beach for the old “normal” where you rush to a Tesco to get a meal deal, try to not get run over by a car or by other pedestrians if you’re losing the rhythm you have to walk by. Are you ready?
You are what you wear
People used to wear suits and you sometimes hear people say “I used to be a suit”. Of course, nobody ever really was a piece of clothing, but what they mean is that they had to wear one on the job to be taken seriously in a corporate environment. If you walked around Liverpool Street or Bank Station in 2019 you could have labelled nearly everybody a “suit”. If you walk through the city now and see somebody wearing that traditional western-culture-costume, you hear people ask: “Which century did he travel from?”
Truth is though, when offices reopen, the suits will come back. No more working in pyjamas or sweatpants! Do you even know where your suit is? You might want to iron that shirt that has been squished for the past year in your wardrobe! Are you ready?
Back to being social
No question – we all want to see friends and family again in real life, we want to share hugs and not pay attention to the distance we keep between each other. The same might be true for your colleagues – that’s if you like them and we hope you do! Having a coffee together before the day starts, going for lunch or drinks after work are the social parts of our work-lives that we used to enjoy. Let’s be honest though, you don’t have to spend 5 days a week, 7.5 hours a day in an office to go for a coffee, lunch or beer together. You could meet your team once per week in a coffee shop or coworking space. Not only would you get together as a team in real life, you could also try a new place for lunch every week in a different part of the city. Maybe one week, you choose a workspace close to the colleague in East London and the next week you choose one closer to the colleague down in Surrey. If you really feel like going into the city, there’s plenty of choice too! It could be fun to explore a different area every week and to see how the coffee tastes elsewhere.
That’s what Othership is about! Skip the routine-commute and fully indulge in flexible working. Work from home on Mondays, meet your team in a coworking space on Tuesdays, try a local coffeeshop on Wednesdays and stop by the office on Thursdays to get a drink after work with other teams in your company. Fridays? It’s up to you! Make your work work for you!