Well, here we are. Half way through the first term of the 2021 academic year and due to the lingering impact of the pandemic (and the fact that no one can be bothered to commute anymore) we find ourselves navigating the minefield of hybrid working. As you try to remember which desk you’ve left all your chargers on and readjust to not working in your pyjamas, allow us to share our tips for the new office-remote hybrid world.
1.“Have you been into the office much?”
This year, this classic post-summer pleasantry “Have you been anywhere nice on holiday?” is firmly out and has instead been replaced with the new fan favourite “Have you been into the office much?”. Quite frankly, no one has been anywhere nice since March 2020, and we’re all sick of hearing about Center Parcs. What we really want to know is who is likely to be around if we decide to venture into the office for a fun day out, and where is still open to go and get a coffee.
2.Meetings vs meeting-meetings
During the never-ending days of 2020, it was evident that whenever someone suggested a meeting, they were talking about Zoom or Teams. But what happens in 2021 now that it is possible to meet in person again? In order to create some distinction, we have all slipped into a pattern of referring to in-person meet ups as meeting-meetings. It may not be as clear as it could’ve been, but we all know the difference between going out and going out-out, so maybe there is hope yet.
3. Relearning the art of sharing
Until coming back into the office, none of us had quite realised how used we had become to being on our own all day while working from home. Going back to sharing office space with our colleagues has required a fair bit of readjustment. We must now remember to sit at our desks normally, not talk out loud to ourselves, and enforce some kind of breaks during the constant snacking. After all, it’s not just our office-mates that we need to appear hard at work in front of, it’s also everyone on their Teams video call that you’re currently embarrassing yourself in the background of.
4.The new Denmark Hill station
For those of us who are based at the IoPPN, when coming into the office you must remark on how much you love the new entrance to the Denmark Hill station or you simply will not be allowed into the department. This is no joke, it is genuinely the most exciting thing that has happened to us all year. Not only is the new entrance spacious and beautifully designed, but it also cuts a good minute and a half off the commute by not having to walk to the other side of the station. That’s time that can now be well spent remarking on the multi-colour tiling instead.
5.“I’ll come in if you do”
Why is it that we were all so keen to come back to the office? To be able to work with fewer distractions? To have a bigger computer screen? To separate our work and home environments? These all sound like excellent reasons, but if the schedules that we’ve settled into have shown us one thing, it’s that we only really care about coming in to see our colleagues. There is no limit to the joy brought about by sharing ideas in person, grabbing a coffee or bite of lunch together, or even just asking someone a quick question without having to schedule a call 3-5 working days in advance. Sure, the 25 minutes that it takes to set up a hybrid meeting may seem like a real faff, but having some of your peers there to laugh at your lack of HDMI skills in person makes it all worthwhile.