Rediscovering your Office Post COVID-19







When that momentous day finally arrives and you are allowed to legally reacquaint yourself with your long forgotten COVID-19 free office of old, will you be prepared for the emotional experience?

You, and many of your colleagues, may become teary, or not cope with the prospect of actually leaving that safe and hygienic home fortress of your private abode that has protected you from the pandemic onslaught for the past few months.

Now before you step into your car, or on to your preferred mode of public transport, here are some helpful tips to support you on your office journey.

Office Amnesia
Many of you may have forgotten where you actually work and have no idea on how to get there? Relax, as this common condition is known as “Office Amnesia” and you are not alone with this conflicting malady. The prescribed solution is to find one of your old business cards, one that has your name on it, and not one of the many Uber Eats promotional cards that you have accumulated over your weeks of home captivity. Now find your work address, enter the location into Google Maps, and be prepared to follow it without any creative deviation.  

Buttons
Once you have arrived at work, some of you may need to locate a vertically moving metal cubicle to reach the lofty heights of your office. With time, the word “Elevator” will indeed re-emerge into your vocabulary. I’m conscious that the majority of you will have been confined to a single or double story house, or apartment, but don’t be too perturbed about having to travel into the upper regions, you used to do it all the time and experienced no ill altitude related physical effects, in fact, some of you used to actually fly on business! (Note: you do need to press the illuminated numbers on the elevator wall in order to commence your ascension)

Desk
On arrival at your desk, you may still need to wear your face mask. Not due to COVID-19, but owing to the large accumulation of office dust and other residual muck that could be a potential health hazard. This visually annoying dust build up will be more discernible for those of you that partake in the “clean desk policy”, however, for those employees that adhere to the “mess is best” methodology, you will be none the wiser.

Coffee
As you will no longer have the option of disguising your lack of work productivity via the use of Zoom, Webex or Teams video-conferencing where you could speedily turn your camera off or on, complete with a background of visual stimulation, you will now need to muster a cleverly crafted facial look of concentration from at least 8:30 AM to 5 PM. To accomplish this forgotten feat, you will strategically need to locate the coffee machine with military precision, or a nearby café that is not full to the brim with those needing a welcome retreat from the tiring corporate environment.  

Home Time
Although you couldn’t wait to get back to the corporate office, once 5 PM arrives, you will be busting with fatigue to make it home so you can rapidly disrobe in private and re-familiarise yourself with those comfy trackie pants that you have lived in for months (Note: unlike trackie pants, a suit or skirt does need to be hung on a coat hanger in order to avoid creasing).

So, my corporate office colleagues, by closely adhering to these tips, you will be prepared for your first day back in the office. However, don’t forget that you need to do this for 5 days (Monday to Friday). It is not a once off random event, but your job!

Cohabitation Code of Conduct – Your Human Performance Review

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As with all Cohabitation Codes of Conduct that involve teddy bear-human relationships, a performance review discussion is indeed worth the time allocated, and this one is long overdue let me assure you! As they say, no time is better than the present, so as your teddy-bear, may I ask you to sit down, carefully move those unwieldly and messy food stained cushions away, and let’s get on with your appraisal.

In order to avoid any personal teddy-bear bias, I have surreptitiously done a 360 feedback on you and have diligently summarised the anonymous responses from all the other stuffed animals that have had to cohabitate with you whilst you have been “working” from home. Your score is rated out of three (3), as teddy bears for some strange reason only have three fingers on each paw. You will also be pleased to know that the lowest possible rating is zero (0), which should put your human mind at ease.  So how did you go?

Cleanliness
As with most typical performance appraisals, the modus operandi is to provide positive encouragement for those activities that need improvement, so as to not demoralise the recipient. After some careful consideration, which resulted in many commonly used human expletives quickly permeating my innocent teddy-bear mind, I have decided to immediately reject this approach and have elected to go straight to the jugular. Your rating is zero (0), you are the messiest individual this household has ever known. You think you are disguising this poor personal trait by choosing an orderly, fictitious video conference background, but we teddy bears know the truth. Be warned, we have taken incriminating photos showing you in your real-time slothful state, and will publish them on social media should there be no immediate noticeable improvement!

Clothing
When you first started working from home, you dressed in a smart, casual manner. Clothes were ironed, clean and colour coordinated. So much so that we, your adoring teddy-bears, looked forward to seeing you each morning with eager anticipation as we excitedly wondered what fashion clothing foray would be presented to us, and to your virtual work colleagues. However, as the weeks and months have progressed, all we now see is the repetition of trackie pants and a creased t-shirt, no shoes or socks, and embarrassingly sometimes, even less. As such, your performance rating is one (1), thankfully, you were wearing clothes.

Teddy-bear Interaction
You used to speak to us all the time. We would have a prime sitting position, strategically placed on the edge of your work desk, just out of sight from your video camera, but we felt part of your team, we had your respect. But now, we are habitually flung face down into the intolerable depths of your couch, or even worse, your cupboard. We no longer feel the love. It is for this reason that we have all agreed that your rating is a solid zero (0).

In summary, your standards have dropped. You have not abided by the Cohabitation Code of Conduct, and it is for this reason that your teddy-bear cohorts respectfully request that your return to your corporate office and cease working from home. Enough is enough!

Life as we know it

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“Life as we know it” has certainly changed with COVID-19, but will it change for ever?

What if no vaccine is found and humankind gradually morphs into a COVID-19 tolerant version of ourselves as postulated in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? What would we, and the corporate workplace look like in the future?

Governments all around the world have decreed that face-masks need to be worn at all times when in public, and even in the office. Studies have indicated that when one of mankind’s senses is destroyed, or not used, another sense is increased to maintain the sensory balance.

The wearing of a facemask impinges our ability to smell, to get sun on our faces. Will this lead to our nostrils becoming larger in order to absorb more odours, our skin becoming more bleached with less exposure to the sun’s rays, and the days of men needing to shave ceasing owing to minimal facial hair follicle stimulation? Will our noses and ears become more pointed to assist with holding a face-mask firmly in place?

Many of us are now working from home. Will we need an office in the future? Will cities be replaced with a sprawl of suburbia where we all comingle electronically rather than in person? Will a computer keyboard be required for the typing of communications? If not, will our fingers become less nimble and take on a short, stumpy appearance?

Relax, and take no heed, nor concern to the above, as innovation will indeed find the requisite solution. According to Newton’s third law, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Mankind is creative, and whilst a facemask is dulling some of our facial senses, be assured that the corresponding thought senses associated with innovation have been given a boost of creativity and are working to the maximum.

A welcome solution to COVID-19 will indeed be found and “Life as we know it” will continue, albeit with a temporary hiccup in time. Our faces will be the same, men will continue to shave, and the corporate office will still exist, but maybe with some efficiency tweaks of improvement from a positive outcome from working from home.

So what do we need to do in this time of COVID-19 crisis…..Innovate!

Trackie Pants in the Office?

The-Gentlemen-Coach-Track-Suit

An item of clothing that was once regarded in the casual, semi-slothful classification has slowly permeated its way into the corporate approved list, all as a result of COVID-19.

It never makes any visual appearance in a video conference call, but is happily and comfortably worn by many an employee who has been reluctantly forced to work from home, all under the requirement of strict self-isolation.

It is commonly known by all employee classes in the corporate office as the trackie pant and comes in a variety of fashionable colours, fittings and price tags.

In days gone past, the trackie pant served as a stress relaxation catalyst that quickly assisted the employee’s mindset change from work, to home mode. The process was simple, corporate clothes off, trackie pants on, where a feeling of individual freedom and minimal restriction was instantaneously achieved. All this was done in their private abode, where no discerning eyes of any critical observation were ever to be found.

Historically, the trackie pant was never worn to the office, even on a Casual Friday, as dictated by the well-established rules of corporate dress code.  But like all traditions, when subjected to a massive paradigm shift outside the individual’s control, even the most ardent corporate customs slowly yield to change, all due to the prevailing clothing environment.

But once the world has overcome the dreaded impact of COVID-19, whenever that day may be, and all corporate employees are allowed to yet again return to their beloved offices, will the trackie pant come with them? Will it be allowed to embellish their bodies as they sit at their desks, or be publicly portrayed as they casually walk the corridors? Time will tell, and I am not one to judge, nor should I comment in the positive, nor the negative.

New dress rules will surely apply, as some employees will undoubtedly test the boundaries of track suit pant decency.

However, I can see a positive influence on corporate innovation. For those of you who have read the Cardigan Effect, there is an obvious correlation with the trackie pant, so with some trepidation, I am indeed a supporter! Anything that influences creativity should definitely be given a go, regardless of any visual consequences.

But, will this slowly mean the demise of the suit? I hope not, but you never know…..

Neck Attire, Post COVID-19

Errol Flyn

That gleeful time is fast approaching when we will all be allowed to return to the corporate office, albeit subject to the ongoing COVID-19 rules of social distancing. However, I for one, will be pleased to look my fellow co-workers directly in their computer weary eyes, rather than via an impersonal electronic screen. I am so over the repetitive hourly ritual of video conference calls!

Yes, for the past couple of months, we have all been judiciously working from home, but it’s now time to joyfully open up your clothes wardrobe and to rediscover your forgotten corporate business attire. Do you remember those crisply ironed business shirts, ties, suits, cuff-links and polished leather shoes?

But let’s reflect on your appearance, one that I suspect has slowly morphed from that of a snappy, fashionable, stylish dresser, to that of a casual, rather haphazard, creature of home comfort. It is also likely that the concept of enclosing your unhindered neck with a business tie is furthest from your current Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in fact, you may have forgotten that well-practiced past art of manoeuvring the slender sewn fabric into a knot that miraculously resembled the legendary half, or full Windsor.

However, relax, as a fashionable alternative to the business tie is available to those that are authentic seekers of true neck freedom that accommodates the continued yearning for casualness following weeks of home incarceration.

The answer is the cravat.

This clever piece of clothing is ready and willing to fill the void on any business shirt wearer’s neck, be they male, or female. Besides looking decidedly eye-catching to any sophisticated observer, the cravat can be loosely tied, thereby giving the wearer that wanted feeling of lasting comfort.

The cravat has been in existence since the 16th century, and will undoubtedly continue for many more, which is not surprising considering its remarkable ability to complement the attire of any astute wearer.

So, as you prepare for your return to the corporate office, quickly go online, or into any clothing store of good repute, and purchase at least one cravat, and with time, you will quickly be a convert, and one that is deemed by your fellow workers to have impeccable fashion taste.

The Cohabitation Code of Bear Conduct

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I understand that you adults now need to spend time working from home, but let’s get things straight, there needs to be rules. For many years, we Teddy Bears have lived in peace and quiet whilst you grown-ups have gone to work and had a human life. Well, if we are going to spend more days together, or potentially weeks in close proximity, things need to change.

As such, we, your Teddy Bears have banded together and have developed a Cohabitation Code of Bear Conduct. If you don’t obey it, we will be leaving your household as we are immune to any virus, so the loser in this relationship will be you, not us!

Video Conferencing
There is no need to shout. From our comfortable abode of sitting centrally on your bed in between the pillows, we can hear everything you say, even with our paws covering our ears. So please use a normal indoor voice. Yes, the microphone on your computer is working.

Clothing
Pyjamas were designed as night time wear, not for use during the day. And for those of you that think that you are clever by wearing a business shirt on your top half, with a pyjama bottom under the desk, everyone knows what you are doing so the only fool in the room is you.

Teddy Bear Attire
Yes, we bears typically wear no clothes. We are comfortable in our nudity, particularly as we have “no private parts” to interfere with any gender identity. However, you humans need to think twice about copying our lack of clothing standards. What is acceptable in the corporate office must apply during the work day hours. We don’t care what you do in the evenings as is portrayed by the continual glazed look of neutral non-interest that we have carefully mastered after years of human behavioural observation.

Sneezing and Coughing
Teddy Bears don’t like baths, particularly soap. As such, we do not like being sneezed or coughed upon and request that you keep a handkerchief in close proximity at all times when you are working.

Throwing
We don’t mind sitting next to your work desk, in fact, we enjoy the social interaction, but please don’t throw us when we are accidentally seen by your computer camera during a video conference call. Everyone has a Teddy Bear, so relax, it’s OK for us to be seen, and we promise not to say anything that might undermine your professional standing with your colleagues.

So, if you want a happy life whilst working at home, the answer is indeed simple. Just follow these five Cohabitation Code of Bear Conduct rules and you and your Teddy Bear will get along just fine. We might even let you give us a hug, even if you break one of them by mistake, so everyone is a winner!