Post Covid, work really has changed forever. Our offices are filled with different characters to those you’d find pre-pandemic. Clock-watchers and file pushers no longer cover it. Look around your workplace – how many of these new personalities can you spot?
Since WFH started, Philosophical Phil has begun to question the entire working structure around him - the physical office, the dress code, the phone calls, the concept of time - and cannot stop. So long as work is delivered and targets are met, Phil would argue, why must he gather with colleagues in an overly lit open-plan room filled with wheelie chairs and passive aggression?
Most likely to say: “When you think about it, what is ‘employment’, Ian? Is it not more of a state of mind? Are we really ever clocked in or clocked out? We simply are.” His out of office simply reads: “Phillip is ~vibing~ right now.”
As if to prove that Philosophical Phil has a point, some senior figures with large companies to run continue to live far, far away, regardless of what’s going on at the office.
People know Awol Abigail’s still in charge, at least nominally, but haven’t seen her in months. It is like working for a spirit, an unknowable energy who pulls the strings from another county, occasionally reminding employees she’s alive by sending largely pointless emails.
Most likely to say: “If your email is urgent, please contact my deputy, Linda.”
You’ll spot Harry within seconds. There he is, wandering over to the water cooler in his two masks, visor and gloves.
More than 26 months into the pandemic and he’ll still offer out the hand sanitiser and make pointed little shuffles backwards on his chair whenever anybody gets within two metres of his desk. He’s quiet in meetings, silently hoping for another lockdown.
Most likely to say: “Is it OK if I dial into the meeting from the empty room next door? It’s either that or I wear my full virus-hunter suit, and last time I did that you kept asking me if I’d lost my beehive.”
You’re Not At Home Joan
Joan is back in the office now, physically, but she’s completely forgotten how to act. She brings in her laptop because she can’t remember how to log in to the work computers, starts three hours late as rush hour’s a bit on the busy side, uses the office kitchenette to make seafood risotto at lunch, and dresses mainly in layers of towelling material.
Most likely to say: “That movement in my handbag? Oh, I brought my greyhound Jessica in today. I’ll need to walk her twice or she’ll get tetchy.”
Terry the TW&T
In professional parlance, Terry’s one of the Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays crowd. Wednesday’s the new Thursday, which was the new Friday.
The TW&Ts’ unfortunate acronym shows the envy, and slight disdain, of their MTWT&F (not quite as catchy, that one) peers. But who can blame them, when smug, sunkissed Terry sashays in from the commuter belt on Tuesday morning, having been impossible to reach on Monday and Friday, then vanishes again barely 48 hours later to spend more time out with friends.
Most likely to say: “[Yawning dramatically on Wednesday afternoon, after precisely one day of work] Phewee, what a week chained to the ol’ desko, eh?”
Despite a widespread return to life “as normal”, some offices remain largely empty. But in many of them there is a lonely figure – or maybe a skeleton team – just drifting in space, manning the station while everyone else is at home. Colin’s one of the older generation who are also more likely to be returning to the office than the midlifers. And thank God, as he alone props up the local Pret A Manger. He sees nobody, bar the security guard on the front desk, and has named all the office mice after colleagues he once knew. He’s sure that people will be back soon. They can’t have forgotten about him, can they?
Most likely to say: “[In a terrified voice, when a faraway security light triggers] Who goes there?!”
The Daily Telegraph