Returning to the office

There are two ways to read that title, each way will change the emphasis on how you think about the statement. Did you read it as “returning to the office”, or was it “returning to the office“?

If the former .. “returning to the office” … have the conversations with management started, about a return to the office after +12 months working remotely? The emphasis here is on the return, in the same way people talk about the ‘new normal’ is something like the ‘old’ normal. Is this a permanent return, a phased return, or even no return on the horizon? is this really a ‘Return’, or a token gesture ‘return’ to the space(s) you’ve used before? Has your organisation made the role, or you, permanently remote? Is the return something you have control or agency over as part of the conversation, or has it been ‘done to you’, so to speak? Would you choose something different than what has been offered or instructed – would this be more or less time in the office?

If the latter … “returning to the office” … have you been asked to or had the ‘office’ defined for you? The emphasis here is the office, and the assumption this means a return to a ‘space’ you or your management associate to working on site. Are you returning to the same desk you used to have, or are the spaces all different now because of social distancing, safe access, and exit procedures, meeting room size, etc? Is your home ‘office’ not good enough for the health and safety rules? Are you in a position to decide and define your ‘office’ space and location, and would you change it if you could?

Does it even matter? Are you just glad there’s something different to look forward to, to meeting up with friends and colleagues again?

I’ve got my ‘office’ space at home defined and working well. It works for me. It might not be the best setup, but it’s OK. I could move the desk so I’m facing the window so I’m in better lighting on Teams and Zoom calls. Or I could move some of my Lego storage boxes out and give me more space and less clutter, but I like it where it is. It works for me, and I’m quite happy here.

Yes, working remotely has been a challenge, in the same way working in an open plan was a challenge to find space for meetings, finding somewhere quiet for a confidential line management chat or for focussed working. Different challenges, but neither in or out of the office are the ideal situation. Something that enables us to make the best of both worlds is the ideal scenario?

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash