Yesterday was my first time back to my home office since Feb 2020. What an experience!
Here were highlights of what went through my mind yesterday:
On others and the location
“Oh god, what’s her name?” I mentally panicked as the person walked towards me, showing obvious signs that she knew me. I have no clue who that person is since she has a mask on. Recognizing a face by the eyes, forehead, and hair style is a skill that I have yet to learn.
“Hmm, he is (taller/ shorter/ wider/ skinnier) than I expected.” I constantly felt guilty at how my unconscious bias worked. Half of the people I chatted with were people who joined after Covid started, so it was the first time I had met them. Learned that I am not good at guessing people’s body type based on our zoom conversations.
“Why can’t I figure out how to get hot water?” The handle on our high volume hot water machine looked completely different, where the handle looked jerry-rigged with a homemade contraption attached to it. Before I could break the handle trying to get hot water, the security guard ran over to show that I needed to press my feet on the new contraption to get hot water. Doh,I forgot about the touchless focus these days. The whole office felt familiar yet updated (e.g., new signages, etc).
On my own habits
“These pants feel weird. Also, who turned on the air conditioning (A/C) so high?” Who would have thought that wearing pants for work would bring out a weird feeling? Also, since I am too cheap to turn on A/C all day at home, I was not used to the full blast of the office A/C. Back to long sleeves and pants for work.
“Please don’t turn on the light.” I recalled myself thinking half asleep, as I heard someone walking into the meeting room where I was following a new Covid norm of taking power naps. There were so many new norms that I developed (e.g., daily exercise, extra time with family, extra time for myself, etc) that I don’t want to lose. Finding the right balance will be an adjustment.
On the overall experience
“Why do I feel SO exhausted?!?” By 3pm and only a few meetings in, I was utterly exhausted (even after my nap). Commuting and staying social beyond the confines of Zoom is draining and takes a different type of stamina.
“It was great seeing (her/ him)!” I felt so happy seeing my team in person. We did not have enough time to catch up but I look forward to the watercooler chats so that I can catch up on everyone’s lives.
We are heading back to the office in a hybrid model on April 25th. Though it will be a readjustment, I am excited to embrace the hybrid work life and see people in person again!