Home working has its ups and downs and JULENA DRUMI says a four-legged friend is an ideal companion
Three months spent working from home, and a lot has changed. No longer rushing up and down stairs, hosting visitors, drinks after work. Now I’m listening to Classic FM to create a soothing rhythm to the day and peering at colleagues through the medium of Microsoft Teams as a way of keeping the show on the road and ensuring I stay in touch with life as we knew it.
There’s a lot of talk about the ‘return to work’, but that’s only for shop staff, bar tenders, bricklayers and zoo keepers. We ‘non-essential’ office staff will have to wait, stay at home and continue mixing the spreadsheets with washing the bed sheets.
Where would we all be without these virtual meetings that mean millions of office workers have turned into a vast army of hermit labourers? Teams, Zoom and sundry other conferencing hubs have been a god-send for companies and individuals the world over. I doubt many firms would have got through this without the magic of digital communications.
Even so, contact with colleagues is rather different to how it used to be. For some it’s about making sure you’re keeping your hair in some sort of shape and that you’re still presentable even though the blurry images mean no one can really tell if you’re wearing this season’s Prada or a sweaty t-shirt that’s due a wash.
The usual office gossip has been heavily doused with chat about what’s on TV, or a rare escape to the garden centre. We’ve not been able to talk about what we’ve spotted in the shops or where we spent the weekend. Everyone was at home, of course, or visiting designated family and friends. For the 12th week in a row.
Our office team is an eclectic bunch of 40-odd from around the world who normally provide a cosmopolitan mix of stories. They’ve all done their bit to keep spirits up, have a laugh, take part in quizzes, swap stories they’ve heard. We’ve still been able to celebrate winning contracts (yes, real work). But staring at someone on a screen means you have to think of something to say. So, we talk about Trump, cooking, the dearth of decent telly, even how much money we’ve saved. Oh, and when the lockdown will end. When real life, might resume, even if normal life now seems to have been consigned to history.
Home working has its pluses, giving us a bit of time back, and an opportunity for some “me-time”, but it’s not the same and I’ve missed being with colleagues to share coffees and break-time bacon butties. The virtual world may mean they are just a screen away, but it has no aroma. I miss my walks to the office and back and a lunchtime stroll with Flossie. She’s our unofficial “office dog” and very much part of the team.
‘They can’t help out with brainstorming or tight deadlines, but they don’t steal pens, or raid the biscuit tin’
Which brings me to Bring Your Dog to Work Day on Friday 26 June, which this year is Bring Your Dog to Work At Home Day. Inevitably.
And what a comfort our little house dog Rio has been these past few weeks. Many of us are spending a third of our lives with our four-legged friends as our only office companions, and they just love to join in. Occasionally, just a little too much. How many laptop meetings have been interrupted by a howling pooch in the background?
There are many positives to sharing office time with them. They never steal pens, sticky notes, or raid the biscuit tin. They don’t gossip or mumble sarcastic comments from the other side of the room. They may get a bit smelly, but they don’t swear or play tricks.
My little Papillon has grown used to this new office routine: an early walk, before trying to disrupt my morning stretching exercises by wanting me to throw his ball, and he never complains about my choice of music while I am tapping away on the keyboards. He reserves his barks for the postman or anyone else who may come to the door. At least I can’t miss them.
Sadly, he is unable to help with many things such as brainstorming, tight deadlines, demanding emails and colleagues, decision making and multi-tasking, but a lick on my hand or leg means he is doing his best to support me through good and bad times.
Yes, a dog is definitely an office’s best friend.