A couple weeks ago now was my first time back in the office since March 2020, and the start of this whole pandemic thing. Although my job currently doesn’t have an ‘in office’ requirement, and my role is technically designated as hybrid, the company did open up the office for people who wanted to come in to work.
On my first day back, we actually arranged for the entire Seattle based part of the team to come in. My boss is the only person on the team left who was part of the team pre pandemic, and even she wasn’t my boss pre pandemic, rather an analyst like myself. Between people leaving and new hires post March 2020, everyone else on the team has changed since I was last in the office. This would be the first time I have meet pretty much my entire team outside of a zoom call.
Getting on the train into the office still seems a bit weird. At 8:00 am, it is a rush hour train, yet the train is still mostly empty, where as pre pandemic, an 8:00 am workday train would be packed, and you would pretty much need to stand the entire trip. Plenty of seats are now available.
On that first day back, as I mentioned, the team from Seattle was there. Since the pandemic however, the team has become more geographically diverse adding members in Chicago, Dallas,and Los Angeles as well. They were’t coming in for that first day. But it was good to be able to meat at least part of my team in person, after knowing them only over the internet for the past couple of years.
Since my last time in, they have remodeled the floor. What used to be my desk is now part of a lounge area. Although, having individual desks is also no longer a thing. All desks are now ‘hot desks’ where you can plug in your laptop for the day, and at the end of the day, you pack up all your stuff and take it home. I decided to take my former bosses desk, it has a window view, and somewhat resembles the desk I used to have.
Additionally, managers now also need to hot desk, as all of the offices they used have been turned into meeting rooms, for people who are in the office to meet with their business partners who happen not to be in the office that day. Or now, in an entirely different city.
I seem to be more productive back in the office. Working from home has made me distracted to a certain extent I guess, so I can’t focus on work the way I used to back at my work desk. After accomplishing quite a bit on that first day back, I decided I should try to come into the office twice a week or so.
That day for lunch we decided to do a group lunch at Dough Zone, a dumpling house a couple of blocks away that we used to go to frequently for group get togethers.
Since that first day back, I have been back a few more times, however, the office has been mostly empty, without the organized team get together. One of my former colleges who moved to another team is usually there, so we usually chat it up for a while, but for the most part, the floor is empty. Still, with fewer distractions, I feel that I should start coming in more often.
For lunch, I have typically been bringing my own from home and having it in the kitchen. I used to typically eat at my desk, but now that we’re using these shared ‘hot desks’ that seems weird, that I am having my lunch at the same place that someone else may possibly be working from tomorrow. Hence, I guess I feel more comfortable in the designated ‘eating area’ of the kitchen.
There was one day last week however, where I forgot my lunch at home, so I ran out to Jimmy Johns, something I would do frequently back when I was in the office, but have not been to at all since the pandemic, as they don’t have locations in the neighborhood where I live. However, getting to the front of the counter, I completely forgot my sandwich of choice, and my brain froze for a moment, before finally remembering my order “Vito, add mayonnaise and hot peppers”, plus chips. Probably my most anxious moment for that entire day.
Eventually, the company supposedly plans on having everyone come in once or twice a week. That was supposed to happen in July 2021, but then the Delta variant happened. Then it was supposed to be the start off 2022, but then Omicron happened. Now April is the date that is supposed to happen. As I write this in the first week of April 2022, no official announcement has been made yet, so I suspect it may not come at all. If and when it does come, I suppose the office would get to be quite a bit more crowded, as the company has actually offloaded some of its real estate anticipating that a full return to the five day in the office work week is not going to happen any time soon.
So for now, I will continue to come in twice a week. Probably random days, since I don’t feel a pattern coming on yet. Perhaps I will do this on days when I know I am going to be busy, and take advantage of the productivity boost. In the meantime, I expect the trains and offices to get more crowded as people start making the return, and thing get back to some resemblance of normal, or at least as normal as things are going to get.