2020 has been a total shitshow, but one of the few silver linings to come out of a global pandemic has been our ability to work from home. When the pandemic took hold in early March, office workers around the world discovered what stoners and toddlers have known for decades: being at home is the best.
All of a sudden, you could wake up at 8:58 AM and still make it to work by 9:00 PM. Gone was the suit and tie, replaced by whatever you felt like wearing. Sure, we were experiencing a once in a lifetime global health crisis, but at least you were comfortable.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and as part of the push to live in a ‘normal’ world, workplaces are gradually reopening.
Which means there’s a high chance you’ve already received a passive-aggressive email from Susan in HR explaining that your allotted days in the office are Tuesdays and Wednesdays – and that the company is excited to see all your smiling faces again!
It’s normal to feel apprehensive towards re-entering the real world, all that time at home has left you out of practice, but if you follow this foolproof office COVID guide, everything will be just fine.
Months of comfort wear has taken its toll, and now the idea of stuffing your body into anything other than a hoodie and tracksuit is unbearable. While you might think rocking up the office in fancy sweats and a tee screams ‘supreme confidence’, it actually screams ‘I’ve given up.’
Depending on the vibe of your workplace, you can still keep it casual with chinos and a button-up or jeans and a sweater, but the time has come to retire the robe and ban the Birkenstocks. Until next pandemic.
Practice your small talk
One of the most significant upsides about WFH is that it eliminated all those meaningless conversations you were forced to have with people whose names you can barely remember. Being at home meant you never had to spend two excruciating minutes in the elevator listening to Simon (or is it Steven?) tell you about the fantasy football podcast he hosts with two friends from school.
But now you’re back at work, and inane chatter is once again part of your day. Here are a couple of topical fallback questions to have on hand;
Are you going to Byron this weekend like the rest of Australia?
Have you seen the new Borat?
How shit is it being back at work?
Decide on a greeting
COVID has turned the decision-making process around greeting etiquette into a real nightmare.
Handshakes are a bit of a hot zone, fistbumps seem too casual, elbow bumps seem like old news, and kisses are exclusively for COVID-conspiracy theorists or that mate who once went to France on exchange.
Your best bet is just to pick a path and back yourself because the only thing worse than actually catching COVID is the awkward hover. Are we shaking hands, are we touching, are we ever going to finish this greeting?
Our recommendation: the double thumbs up (not really, go the fist bump).
Remember, the office kitchen is not your home kitchen
Time to tone down your lavish lunch, guys. No doubt you’ve been taking full advantage of pimping your lunch hour by cooking all sorts of crazy shit. I once roasted a lamb on a Tuesday just because I could. But now that you’re sharing a communal kitchen, with a mouldy microwave and mismatched cutlery, it’s time to scuttle back to the old faithful: tuna and rice.
Better yet, spend $17 on a sandwich like the rest of us.
Tone down any and all displays of ill-heath
Nothing will make you less popular with your colleagues then sounding like you’re about to kickstart a new COVID cluster. While an innocent sneeze used to elicit sympathetic blessings from coworkers now, it’s met with scowls and suspicion. Have you been to a hotspot lately? Is that bat you’re eating?
If like me, you suffer from hayfever this can quickly turn you into the office pariah that no one wants to hang out with.
I suggest you lean into this isolation and play the role of possible-carrier. If you sound sick enough, the boss may tell you to take a few days, maybe finish the week from home.