As life begins to settle after a disorienting period of lockdown upon lockdown, restriction after restriction, the debate rages as to whether we should return to the office or keep the pyjamas on and leave the camera off.
Today, one of the most interesting work-related discussions centres on what office life will look like as we enter into the first prolonged period of “normality” in two years. At a glance, there appear to be three main camps: Those who have already returned, having made no secret of their impatience to get back to the office gossip; others who have opted to shun office life altogether; and the reticent bunch (who may ease themselves gradually back into the coffee dock banter and lunchtime laughter) who perhaps haven’t quite made up their minds just yet.
Having spent the last two years working from home myself, there are a number of things I already miss. More to the point, there are lots of things I had forgotten I enjoyed so much about being present in an actual brick-and-mortar building – and the perks that come with it.
While I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy the morning routine rigmarole that needs to be pushed through before we’ve even set foot out the door, I do enjoy the actual commute (that’s right, I said it). It gives me time to listen to my favourite podcast or some chattery morning talk radio as I ease into the day.
Actual bonafide coffee (made by someone who knows what they’re doing)
Returning to the office also means venturing out of the house more often than you might choose to. But it comes with its perks, namely coffee. And not just any coffee – brews that tastes so much better than that instant supermarket stuff. Few know this better than the community of tech innovators at the PorterShed – who have a brand new coffee machine to look forward to once the move to Bowling Green takes place in early March.
Likewise – food made by someone who knows what they’re doing
Okay, so getting back to the office might mean we’re tempted to spend money on food more often (I salute you lunchbox legends who are savvy enough to bring pre-made lunch grub), but it’s nice to treat yourself now and again. And there are few places better than Galway as a foodie’s dream destination – fresh seafood, hearty soups, and zesty salads are only a stone’s throw away from almost anywhere in the City of the Tribes.
💻Swap the kitchen table for a purpose-built meeting room at @portershed
Our Virtual Office membership lets you choose what works for you (hotdesk, podcast studio, mailing address)!
— PorterShed (@portershed) February 16, 2022
Connecting with people
Working from home often meant that we’d go from the start of the day to the end, speaking to people only through the medium of a screen. What started as welcome peace and quiet soon devolved into sheer desperation where you’d chew the ear off the DPD man just to hear another human’s voice (just me?). But seriously, getting back to the office makes it so much easier to have those casual conversations we need to perk us up throughout the day. It’s also a great way of staying in the loop on work-related issues. Simply overhearing two colleagues talking can be all the reminder you need about that really important project you’re supposed to have finished by Friday.
The sound of activity
The PorterShed is one of the most diverse places in the city where people from all walks of life and diverse professional backgrounds work in the same building. Working from here, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the endeavour of your desk neighbour or the industry that people show to get innovative ideas off the ground. Having someone within earshot also has its advantages: whenever you’re stuck for a word or a turn of phrase, a scrunched-up face of concentration can be enough to elicit a helpful “need a hand there?” from your neighbour. Then there’s the clack-clack of others’ keyboards, an audible motivational boost to help you get things done ahead of time – the feeling of working in a silo is gone, and it’s invigorating to hear and see so many people working hard to hit targets, turn ideas into realities, and achieve goals.
Here at the PorterShed, we’re certainly not the traditional office environment – coming together and working in technical and creative ways certainly makes this hub unique, as distinct from your “typical” office. What’s more, there are people from so many companies here with diverse perspectives in so many fields, which often leads to all sorts of organic and really fascinating conversations – about work and life.
So, what about you – what are you enjoying about getting back to the office? Do you think there’s still room to strike a balance between full-time office work and stay-at-home hustling? What’s your vision for the future of working?
By Trevor Murray