It was March last year when my boss walked into my beautiful office overlooking Greenmarket Square and said that with hard lockdown coming into effect, we needed to pack up for three weeks.
My office was in a prime spot in the city of Cape Town and I could hear the bells ring out from St George’s Cathedral. It was full of plants that colleagues had given to me after both my parents’ deaths. On the wall were our ideas and brainstorming notes.
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It was a place that had many stories to tell of all the deadlines, the laughter, the creativity and even the tears that had flowed in it. I remember packing the few things I would need.
A colleague had her car with her so took my plants promising to take care of them (and she has). We walked out of the office that day, too afraid to even hug each other goodbye, and I only returned once, to completely pack up as we – like many others – did not return to the office.
Work from home has become the norm. And a small section of my home has become my dedicated “office”.
Remote meetings and hybrid events are also normal now. The other day, I had to meet a colleague from another department to pick up some documents.
I hadn’t met her since March last year and, unexpectedly, I had tears in my eyes when I saw her. Coming face to face with a part of the pre-Covid world reminded me of all we have all endured, lost and been through.
We met three floors down from my old office – now dark and vacant. Will the world ever go back to an office environment?
Psychologically I believe it will have to be done in stages. What this means for the office market is not great. Let’s see how it pans out…