4 Things I Don’t Miss About the Office

Lauren Welgush COVID-19, Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Performance

‘I can’t believe the pandemic was renewed for another season’*. Thanks Conan O’Brien for giving us a laugh in this prolonged state of the world being turned upside down where it feels like this all can’t be real. It’s a tv show, right? A Truman show kind of thing?

The reality is, the pandemic is still upon us and we somehow have to keep living our lives and finding happiness, getting our kids to school and maybe even progressing in our careers. The pandemic has changed everything, including the world of work, yet our business priorities are still relatively the same. Innovation, growth, agility and change management to name a few that are on my mind. And, working from home, my mind now has more space for them.

Sometimes a second season is not a good idea, but sometimes it is better than the first because you know what you are getting yourself into. For me, working remotely has been a massive shift, good for my sanity and happiness and being able to focus on the aforementioned business priorities. So, as someone who works as an HRBP, what am I not missing about the office?

  1. Being stifled by pop-ins. Apparently it takes an average of 23 minutes for an adult to get back into work after being interrupted. Those ‘can I ask you a quick question’ interruptions add up! I also used to run around from meeting room to meeting room dodging questions from people. Unfortunately, the one room I never saw enough- the washroom. Working from home I can now hydrate better with the security of my toilet close by and I get so much more impactful work done now! Of course, I do not have kids, so they are not being my pop-ins and I am certain if I did, I might feel different about this. But, if I did have kids, at least I would get to see them more often.
  2. Employees getting tipsy together on a Friday and worrying about liabilities. Did everyone get home safe, what work conversations did they take to the pub with them, who said the wrong thing to their co-worker? It’s shocking how easily people forget that their actions at the pub after work can actually jeopordize their employment.
  3. People complaining about the frills.  Like their favourite snack not being available and them being unhappy that there isn’t enough diet coke. I am not your mother, this is not a grocery store or a hotel where you get a chocolate on your pillow. Honestly, I have talked about this with a lot of HR colleagues and it is like the perks Olympics. Well we have coffee from so and so, we have organic fruit, we give our staff free lunch. Now I can focus on what really creates engagement in an organization. Bye perks, hello purpose and career development.
  4. Putting on a polished work wardrobe every day. Sweatpants on the bottom, why not. I love a good wardrobe, and I do miss shoes at times, but just like a school uniform, not going to the office dressed up like we are all polished persons levels the playing field a little and makes us more human. You don’t have to put on a suit to be good at your job. And, I am going to say it, why does it really matter if the video doesn’t work on your Zoom interview? Malcom Gladwell, in his book, ‘Talking to Strangers’ says that we tend to be worse at understanding what people are thinking when we can see their body language. So there you have it.

Yeah, it really sucks that the pandemic was renewed for another season but it’s satisfying to know that I can continue to focus on the strategic aspects of my role and put my energies into what really matters, the impact I can make. Let’s just hope we don’t see a season 3.

*O’Brien, Conan (ConanO’Brien). “I can’t believe the pandemic was renewed for another season.” 4 September 2020, 12:14 p.m. Tweet.