I have been working from a very young age, mainly in retail but my last few jobs have been in office environments and I don’t see myself returning to the world of retail. When I started my current job working for a corporate accomodation company two Februarys ago, it became the office job of my dreams. When the rise of COVID -19 reared its ugly head last March and we were demanded to work from home, I was one of the first to go because the fact I was expecting baby No.2 earned me a spot on the ‘ Most Vulnerable’ list. With processes in my role changing everyday and becoming increasingly complicated, I felt lucky to be one of the first going to work from home. It was going to be such a breeze, right?
Although, I didn’t have to stress about what to wear to work every day or deal with the commute, the reality of moving all the aspects of my role and routine in the office to my home was a grim one. Working at the office, you get to turn that switch off when you enter your home but working from home, your home becomes “the office” and I found myself constantly in that work mindset, unable to switch off from the day. Even my dreams at night seemed to centre around what tasks I had for the day.
Now a New Year has begun along with the wind down of my time on maternity leave and so while I imagine if the world will return to a point where going to the office is an everyday norm, I’ve been reminiscing on what I truly miss about life at the office.
The main trend in staying home for me was definitely the loss of routine. When I was in my office, my routine was quite stringent. I went to a 24-hour gym so in order to get the best out of my workout without feeling rushed, I woke up at 4am to get to the gym between 4:30-5:00am and worked out for an hour to 6am. This may sound extreme to some, but I really appreciated the time to myself and always felt energised and ready to tackle the day. Once home, I showered and got dressed for work and organised everything I would need for the day and then I got my son ready. If we’re having a good morning, we would be out of the house and on our way by 7:20am. At work, everything was part of a routine, too. Morning meeting at 8:45am, mid-morning meeting at 11:30am, and another at 2:45pm with all the office antics in between.
With the introduction of furlough and eventually maternity leave, the routine went out of the window and surprisingly, almost immediately. Gone were the early morning risings and the time-keeping; it was a free-for- all for my body and mind and if I’m honest and I didn’t quite know how to deal with it. Weirdly, there’s some guilt attached to it, much like studying months for an exam and then the exam is over in a matter of hours and you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself. Now, with Lockdown 3.0 in full effect and schools closed for the meantime, I have been homeschooling my 5 year old and that has become my routine and while I’m no substitute teacher, I embraced getting back into a schedule and essentially having my day planned out for me.
I’ve chalked it down to office routine= productivity. When I’m milling around the office, or answering emails or contributing to meetings, I feel like I’m being efficient and driven and who doesn’t want to feel like that?
If you’ve been working from home, then I’m sure you’ll read this part with a confused look on your face. I think it’s safe to say, the best parts of lockdown has been not feeling the pressure to dress up and wear makeup everyday, and loungewear sales have probably been at an all-time high. Lockdown essentially revamped the “No-bra” campaign but made it mandatory. I get it; if you’re doing it everyday, keeping up the appearances can be exhausting.
But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. I enjoy doing my makeup, even the bronzed everyday natural look I used to do for work and when it came to my work attire, I was considered for the Best Dressed catergory at our work awards, if that’s any hint to how much I enjoyed dressing up. I’m a stickler for the philosophy if I’m spending most of my time at work then make sure I’m always looking my best and with mild dress code restrictions in place, I was always playing with my outfits. Between being pregnant and not fitting into any of my clothes, and having nowhere to go, I lost the desire to upgrade my wardrobe and shopping for new clothes simply didn’t have the appeal. I also feel like being pregnant but at home, I missed out on the oppurtunity to truly indulge in pregnancy fashion.
One thing I’m definitely looking forward to when I return to office is the excuse to upgrade my wardrobe and start strutting my stuff again.
Collegaues and Office Jokes
The only thing better than finding a job you love is working with a team you love. I was so fortunate to find a workplace where the people truly make the job. The team dynamic was ever-present and real friendships were formed. Not only were my team members supportive to my role but they were bloody hilarious. I’ve always been a fan of the dry humour that’s signature to the UK but the jokes on my office floor were certainly worthy of a spot on Comedy Central. Everyday was like an episode of the “Office”.
This is of course to not to imply we were not professional but the laid-back and enjoyable atmosphere of my office really made a very dynamic and sometimes exahusting job manageable. No two days were the same and having a quirky and somewhat sharp personality myself (self-proclaimed “Comeback Queen”) I felt like I could be completely myself.
This entire experience- the lockdowns, the time spent home with family, the joys of staying in my pyjamas the entire day- these things will be truly treasured. Yes, I’m a wife and a mum but I’m also a professional and I feel like I’m missing a chunk of my identity. I made the joke with my husband last week that I’m not a homemaker but realised it’d been so long since I was in a professional role, maybe the lines are becoming blurred.
When (if) the world returns to normalcy and I’m having a particulary rough day in the office, I will reflect on this time and how much I missed being a part of the chaos.