Esther O’Moore Donohoe: ‘Back in the formal office structure, what have I taken away?’
Esther O’Moore Donohoe describes herself as a Podcaster, Writer and Rhythm Dancer. In June 2020 she reflected on her first week back in the office after working from home.
I went back into work on Monday for the first time since March. I was looking forward to seeing my palleague (pal/colleague) in the flesh instead of a screen but I’ve grown used to my Lockdown WFH Life.
It hasn’t always been easy but after three plus months, I’d settled into a rhythm and had grown to love it. I’d miss monitoring the birdless bird feeders opposite my desk, my 10am homemade coffee and of course the increasingly elaborate breakfast and lunches I’ve been enjoying. Any friends with kids reading this probably want to throw a flip flop at me but overall, WFH has suited me.
On my first day back I arrived into the office, slightly ruddy cheeked and eager to finally see my workmate face to face. We were like two excited puppies.
I’ve also grown fond of the extra hour in bed since not having to go anywhere. My WFH commute time was clocking in at an average of 11.35 seconds, 13 if I paused to open the window on the landing. In order to maximise my T.I.B (Time In Bed) I decided to cycle into work every day instead of my pre-lockdown walk. I can only imagine what a treat it has been for fellow road users to see me huff and puff into town like a hot stick of butter wrapped in a Luas high viz vest.
On my first day back I arrived into the office, slightly ruddy cheeked and eager to finally see my workmate face to face. We were like two excited puppies. I regaled her with tales of my lockdown banana bread lifestyle on a batch loaf budget and she was thrilled. I don’t think I stopped talking for the first four hours. I found myself saying random thoughts out loud just because there was someone there to hear them. ‘Doesn’t it look like Wales is pointing at Waterford on a map?’ ‘Have you ever tasted mead?’ Do you know Nicki Minaj’s real name is Onika Tanya Maraj?’. She didn’t say it, but the way she was staring into the middle distance whilst stapling her hand to her desk let me know she was delighted I had returned.
I pined for my extravagant WFH breakfasts. ‘I’d be having a slow cooked leg of lamb on a bed of jewelled couscous with carrot and sumac puree if I was at home right about now*’
Otherwise, apart from there being hand sanitizer on every available surface, the office looked exactly the same as when I walked out that day in March. Opening my work locker was like opening a time capsule. What secrets would it share with me? Who was Esther of three months ago? It became clear very quickly that she was and is, a person who is terrified of not having enough snacks. I sat on the floor beside my little unit and took out my bits one by one and what a collection it was. Two stale Ryvita sitting in a plastic takeaway container, jars of coffee, tea bags, rice cakes chocolate, porridge and bags of seeds. What an absolute rock star.
I took my un-wild oats and headed for the kitchen. I watched them do slow circuits of the microwave and pined for my extravagant WFH breakfasts. ‘I’d be having a slow cooked leg of lamb on a bed of jewelled couscous with carrot and sumac puree if I was at home right about now*’ I sighed to myself (*a fried egg sandwich). Instead, I sprinkled locker seeds over my heated wallpaper paste and shuffled back to my desk.
Mindful of our boobs
But I was being too glass half-empty. At least my poor laptop was getting a much needed break. I’ve heard it giving out about me to my home printer a few times over lockdown ‘She has me on all day for work and then she keeps me on in the evening to binge watch Tiger King or Dolphin Tzar or whatever she’s into that day. I’m at the end of my tether’.
I’d like to bring my bird feeders into the office, wear pjs in and introduce roast dinners at lunchtime.
On the other end of the spectrum, my bras literally don’t know what’s hit them since I’ve been getting fully dressed every day. They’d been enjoying an extended annual leave in my chest of drawers and now, they find themselves back on my chest (of drawers) 24/7. I think we all need to be mindful of what a difficult transition this will be for our boobs.
So, after a week back in the formal office structure, what have I taken away? WFH works for me but interacting with real life humans is also important. In an ideal world, I’ll be able to do both. In addition, I’d also like to bring my bird feeders into the office, wear pjs in and introduce roast dinners at lunchtime. Will all of my work dreams come true? Time will tell but until then, I’ll just keep cycling and putting my brassieres on, one strap at a time.
Esther O’Moore Donohoe is a writer and broadcaster. On her podcast The 80%, she interviews guests whose success she is 80% happy for.