I have been coming into the office this week instead of working from my home as I have for more than two and a half years. And although I like returning to the structure of the office it is anything but normal. For one, hardly anyone else is in the office. So it is kind of like those post-apocalypse movies where everything has just been abandoned.
I walk by what seems like endless rows of empty cubicles and offices. Supplies are piled empty reception desks. Kitchens are full of abandoned cups and plastic containers. Lets not even talk about what is inside of the refrigerators in the break rooms.
I work out in a gym in one of our office buildings. It used to be packed at lunchtime pre-pandemic. Now I often have it to myself. It is kind of nice, but also kind of unsettling.
There used to be coffee and sandwich places nearby. Now most of them are closed. So my coffee comes from a K-cup and it is consumed at my desk.
It struck me the other day that it is very likely that things will never return to the way it used to be. Most people have the option of working remotely and most people have exercised that option.
We have already consolidated much of the office space we used to have into a couple of buildings. I packed up my spacious office back in August and moved to the 11th floor of my current building where I managed to squeeze 19 boxes of memorabilia accumulated in 25 years of working here into an office the size of small bathroom.
Even my commute has changed. I went from crowded trains that sometimes had people sitting on the stairs to the upper level to cars with a handful of people spread comfortably out with four seats to themselves. I am one of the few people who still wears a mask on the train. COVID shattered our world but now most just ignore that it still exists.
It helps a bit to be an introvert in this new world. There is less forced interactions and most of them are via video. It is much easier to be detached in a video meeting.
Still part of me misses normal (whatever that was).