Today, was my first day in the office since I started working from home, 190 days ago.
I didn’t need to go back – staff can work remotely until at least July 2021 – but I needed a change of scene. Being in the house so much was becoming claustrophobic, and I say that as someone who loves remote working and loves their flat. I have a small train commute, and it felt good to return to the world.
Of course things are very different now. The train ride felt dangerous, particularly with the recent spike in cases. I ended up at the office a little earlier than planned, meaning I was the first one in. A lot of effort had been made to welcome people back and it felt easier than expected. The mostly empty office building couldn’t help seeming a little eerie though. It had the same sort of haunted feel as Elizabeth St John Mandel’s novel The Glass Hotel.
Today was a tiny slice of normality, and very welcome. However, there is an announcement by the Prime Minister scheduled for tomorrow, and I’m expecting that to include people who can do so being told to work from home. We shall see.
The current situation is frightening and depressing and it didn’t need to be this way. The government has frittered away the time before winter, failing to set up decent tracking and tracing. The country’s mood is sour compared to March, riven by suspicion, conspiracy theory, and frustration. As it comes closer, winter begins looking colder and grimmer.
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