A couple of weeks ago I went back to the office after 14 months. Entering the building I met two colleagues I talk to on the phone all the time. And yet, meeting them in flesh and blood I had no idea what to say. I mumbled something weird and quickly rushed to my desk. The awkward encounter really scared me. Have I really forgotten how to talk to humans face to face? To stop freaking out, I decided to focus on what I was really worried about and hence, this post.
On-site vs remote teams
Even before the pandemic began, I was working two days per week from home. As the rest of my team was co-located and exclusively working on site, communication between us was not optimal. I have changed teams since then, but the idea of everyone else going back to working from the office and I being the only one working from home scared me. In a recent discussion we had, the question came up whether we are going to be exclusively on-site. The answer was a collective “no”. Everybody wants to go back for some days but not every day. If we manage to all be in the office on certain days and work remotely the rest of the time, we will probably do fine.
On-site vs virtual meetings
One of the nice things about my job is that I get to talk to many people that are not in my team. Unfortunately, most people that I work with are in different buildings which means that I need a good 10 minute walk to go to each meeting and 10 minutes to return. After all, we are all in the same location, so why not meet in person? But for someone like me who works part-time, a 20 minute walk for a 20 minute meeting, can really affect my schedule. Hopefully, once we go back on-site for the meetings it makes sense, it will be socially acceptable to have an online call instead of a face to face meeting, even if you can walk to each other’s office.
When last year we had to balance work and life during a lockdown, everyone had to adjust to the new normal. It didn’t matter if you had kids or not, everyone had to come to terms with the new reality and arrange their lives around it. While this unfolded, there was in most cases, a solidarity and an understanding that time was needed to establish a routine of sorts. After all, we were in the middle of a global pandemic. Once we go back to work we will again need to change our ways. And even though this is a change for the best, it doesn’t mean that it won’t take time. My honest wish is that we will again be kind to one another and allow the people around us to adapt again.
This has been quite a challenging year, even for those of us that were lucky enough not to get hit hard by the Corona virus. So, when we are able to get back to work with other humans, let’s try to keep some of the lessons we learned and bring them back with us to the office with us.