On paper, working from home is 100% my type. No commute means I have more time, I’m always home to sign for the steady stream of Depop and ASOS parcels that arrive at our house, and no one complains if I listen to throwback 80s anthems all day. I’ve been out of the office since mid March (admittedly I was unemployed for a large wedge of that) and I’m starting to think that my social skills are becoming slightly redundant.
You know that first time we came out of lockdown…
…when seeing the people we’d been banned from seeing for months felt completely alien? I remember feeling strange the first time I visited a pub, or the first time I met up in a group with people (before rule of 6 obv). Since lockdown restrictions have lifted, I’ve been able to see the majority of my family and friends, but socialising in the office is totally off the cards with the ‘work from home’ rules put back into place. And I really miss it.
Your work friends are different to other friends
If you work full time you spend 40 hours a week with your colleagues, so it’s inevitable that you become close pretty quickly. While some of your friends only see you at your best (when you meet up for coffee or a night out at the bar), your work friends see you in every state imaginable. When you turn up at work absolutely soaked because a lorry drove through a puddle at 60MPH, they’re there. When you come in semi-hungover but buzzing from a great date, they’re there. And when you feel extremely medium about the fact it’s only Tuesday lunchtime, they’re there to suggest a trip to Greggs to take the edge off. Work friends are the only people who really understand when you complain about intricate details of your job, which means when you need to vent, they properly understand rather than nodding politely. In short, my life is severely lacking having work friends I get to see every day in the office.
It’s not just work friends I miss, but colleagues…
There is a distinction between work friends and colleagues. Work friends you laugh and cry with, colleagues you make polite small talk with about coffee and the weather. But you need those conversations. Since lockdown, we only socialise with people we plan to socialise with: bumping into randoms at the pub and chatting is off limits, impromptu meet ups require meticulous planning and a booking, and office small talk is off the table cuz WFH. While only socialising with people we plan to see sounds appealing, I think it’s warping my social skills. Being able to talk to people of any age about any topic whilst making a cuppa in the kitchen is a genuine skill, and something we’re missing out on. Yeah yeah, I know you’re thinking “I hate small talk”, but even the option to speak to people outside our usual social circles has dwindled. Aside from my boyfriend and family, the only people I speak to are in their 20s and female, and I feel I’m missing out on a big chunk of life.
I understand that we can’t go back to work for a good reason, obviously I’m not suggesting we all pack up our home offices and back tomorrow morning. But when we can eventually go back to tea rounds, biscuit breaks and asking “what’s everyone’s weekend plans?” on Tuesday mornings, I’m there babes.
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