Notes from an ex-office worker

Let’s face it. Working from home (or ‘WFH’ to all you cool kids out there) has now become a way of life for the typical office employee. Some people have taken to it like a duck to water: home office/’sh-office’? Check. Overflowing laundry? Sorted. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince on full volume? Yes please!

Others, meanwhile, are tired of navigating vacuum cleaners and Duplo bricks to get to their work space, and simply crave those traditional office vibes. Now people are skipping out of bed, hopping back on the commute (sigh) and forgetting their building passes amidst all the excitement.

At Word Monster, we’re experts at this remote working malarkey. Yet we’d be lying if we said we didn’t occasionally reminisce about the good old days where it mattered what we wore from the waist down. Here’s 7 things I’ve been, ahem, missing about former office life…

1. Kitchen gripes

Your train’s been delayed, there’s a 9am call in the diary. You cannot function without breakfast. You NEED caffeine. You run into the office kitchen: the queue for the coffee machine is a mile long, all the good bagels are gone and Phyllis just grabbed the last spoon. You circulate a passive aggressive email to identify the cause of the cutlery famine, and end up late for your meeting as a result. Good times!

2. Water cooler/photocopier gossip

Sounds like a hoot, but has anyone actually experienced this IRL?

3. Controlled temperature

Did you keep a spare blanket or cardigan on the back of your chair as the cold was always in your bones due to the relentless air con? Or the one who wore a woolly jumper but forgot to put an underlayer on, so spent your day sweltering in the heat? In the words of Goldilocks, it’s sadly never ‘just right’. At home, I’m a member of the cold gang: a hot water bottle nestles on my lap as I fight the urge to put the heating on at 10am.

4. The need for night-vision goggles

Forget lunchtime yoga: in my old office nothing got us moving quite like the motion sensitive lighting. Excessive hard work/daydreaming and minimal movement frequently plunged us into darkness (note: this once happened to me whilst on the loo), forcing us to stand and flail our arms around like we’re at the Haçienda in 1997.

5. Colleague distraction

You’re swamped with deadlines and have a ‘hard stop’ at 5.30pm (FYI: meeting a friend for drinks). In Corner A we have Jack, spending the day taking 17 back-to-back calls at his desk. Jill, meanwhile, in Corner B, is listening to her carefully curated Spotify techno-jazz playlist on maximum volume. It might be time to go and hide in the meeting room with the wonky chairs and broken air con.

6. The snacks

Depending on your level of self-restraint, you may have a love/hate relationship with the never-ending office snack supply. Who needs an excuse to go and procure some extra chocolate-y biscuits? On one of these snack pilgrimages, I once spotted Eddie Redmayne wandering around the aisles, but was too starstruck to assess the contents of his trolley.

7. Socialising

Planned or impromptu lunches, pub trips, desk chats (or those infamous water cooler/photocopier chats), summer and Christmas parties… it’s the fun we have with others, the human contact, the random silliness, that can be the cherry on top of our work lives. The relationships you form with your work colleagues can be like no other.

With all this in mind, I feel lucky to be part of the Word Monster team. We may be apart, but we’re very much together! And with a raft of social dates in the calendar, I’m looking forward to some random silliness.

Meanwhile, I’ve signed up to a coworking space. As strange as it sounds, I’ve realised that being around people makes me more productive. And the good news is I don’t need to pack my hot water bottle. But I might need my night-vision goggles.