The office

Posted on 27th September, 2021


Walking down Mansell Street to the office, I battled in my mind the temptation to go into Pret A Manger for a coffee. It wasn’t so much a fight in my head about catching COVID, it was more the cost of a coffee and the calories of it. During lockdown, I had not only, like many, overeaten but I had been quite sedentary due to infections. These had resulted in me putting on a lot of weight. It was now time to control the diet and get active as much as possible to lose the weight. Movement is quite difficult now, stiffness, pain and breathlessness, make walking uncomfortable and slow. So, I decided against popping into Pret, and thought to myself ‘I can make myself a cup of tea in the kitchen at the office’. 


These distracting thoughts meant I was at the office entrance in no time. I put my mask on, entered the building through the open doors and walked up to the reception desk. ‘Morning’ I said with a smile – could the person I was talking to on reception see my smile from my eyes, I hoped so. We shared chit chat and I gave my name and was given my pass to the office floor. I walked to the lift, pressed the button, scanned the pass and waited for the elevator to take me to the office. For some reason, it felt like I hadn’t been away, and I had just been to the office the day before. Exiting the lift, I made my way to the facial scanner. It scanned my face and loudly told me my temperature was okay, I moved my head and then thought, mmm do I need to enter details of who I am? By moving my head, I placed it back in the scanner area, and it scanned me again and shouted out that my temperature was fine. Oh goodness, how do I get it to stop! Where do I go now! The text around me on signs telling me what to do, all became blurred. Anxiety was setting in. Kiu Kiu, Executive Assistant to COO came to my rescue. Kiu Kiu had been helping me get ready to come into the office, and had booked in a car park space for my partner/carer for when he came to pick me up later that day to take me home.


So lovely to meet you in the flesh Kiu Kiu, and you too, we warmly said to each other and I was directed to my designated desk space. I spotted Petra, Head of Volunteering, my new manager, on a desk behind the one I was going to sit on. Hi we both said and Petra stood up to come to introduce herself. We had chatted so much on TEAMS but never actually met either and Petra had come to the office from Liverpool. It was so nice to meet her. We didn’t shake hands, but stood socially distanced from each other and Petra introduced me to some others members of our team who were in the office that day.


Well now, you have to remember I hadn’t seen anybody for a long time, so when I met Petra and Jane, EA to Director of Services and Jess and Eluned, job share Head of Health Advice, I just babbled away about my experience of my journey in (captured in vignette one and two). After my verbal diarrhoea Kiu Kiu kindly helped me set up my computer, and I settled in, went to the kitchen made a cup of tea following the COVID secure guidelines, and settled down to work. I had a meeting scheduled with my new manager in the afternoon, so worked away at my desk, went to the kitchen and ate my packed lunch and then boom it was time for a lovely one to one with Petra. We had a really good planning and scoping meeting and a general chin wag – it was so nice to have some bonding time.


To conclude, I’d like to say that for me, it might not for you, hybrid working works. Being an Extremely Clinically Vulnerable person, each day I assess my risk when going out and about. Going to work by commuting and being around people increases my risk of any infection. It is not just COVID that is a risk, it is colds and flu and pneumonia too, these can land me in hospital. Being able to work from home and go into the office once a month means I can have a good work balance and manage my chronic conditions so I can work. Working from home, I chat to my colleagues every day. One thing I love about my role is that I work across the organisation so I get to chat to lots of people and this can be done face to face or over TEAMS. I am very happy working at home or in the office and I am not as scared now to go into the office!

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