First day back

Reflections on a late return to the office

Last week was my first day back in my base office in almost two and a half years. Since becoming a father it has been easier and more beneficial for me to be at home, and with my projects all being distant there hasn’t been the drive for me to see the local team.

But I never wanted to be a full-time teleworker. As amazing as it is to spend these formative months with my baby, I miss the hubbub of the office, the harder boundary between work and personal life, and the serendipity of a chance encounter helping to solve a problem.

I’m probably the last office worker in the country to return to the office, but thought it is important I capture my impressions.

How was it? Quieter than I remember, but otherwise the same. Partly this was down to most people now being part-time teleworkers, but also because it’s the middle of the summer holidays and half of my colleagues appear to be on leave at any given time. There were enough people in for my visit to not feel weird.

There are some changes. Our office footprint halved, but most people seem to still sit at their old desks. We’re hot-desking now, but we’re creatures of habit. I’d say that includes me, but I forgot what desk I used to occupy.

Also, very exciting: there’s a shiny new coffee machine, which I’m sure will enrich my working day once I work out how to use it.

It makes me wonder what the future of all of this is. Looking around our building there are a few empty units, and the ones that remain are far from busy. The building is missing its buzz, but it remains to be seen how much of this is holiday-related and how much is long term. Will we eventually get new neighbours?

To end on a positive note, it was great to catch up with some of my office mates, some of whom I haven’t seen in almost 30 months. I don’t normally work with these people so I’ve missed the opportunity to interact at a mostly social level.

It’s great to be back in a place of work again, where I can concentrate on one thing. I have the opportunity to enforce some separation between my work and personal lives. That separation will never be absolute, and nor would I want it to be: the foundation of a strong team is the incorporation of our personal lives into our professional interactions.

Looking forward, I’ll go in more often and try to get some regular days so things are more predictable for my family. It will be nice to get some routine back into my working life.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn

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