What We Miss (and Don’t) About Office Culture

The work from home mandate for office-based organizations has bred a new world of comforts that we would’ve never otherwise known, but also has us missing the good ol’ days of office life that we seemingly took for granted. 

From the water cooler talk after the weekend, to speculations of office romances, brainstorm huddles to inside jokes during a team meeting – and who could forget the kitchen lunches – it may be a very long time – if at all – until we experience the extras that made office life what it was. 

But let’s face it: the new normal has given room for many different waves of thought, and has presented opportunities for how we work and innovate. Sad to say, there is a lot we do not miss about office life. For one, not having a commute means that work time can be spent working. We’re also not sad to say goodbye to meetings that could’ve been emails. 

Whatever way you look at it, moving forward will be very different. We took to the Blu Ivy team to find out what they like most about the new normal, and what they’re not liking as much.

“I like flexibility in timing, and having work and life integrated. I can work and take care of my personal life seamlessly because I’m at home every day. I also enjoy the dress code – business up top, potential for pajamas on the bottom. While I’m kidding about this, I think there’s also a recognition that it’s about being yourself and bringing your authentic self to work. Nobody is expecting perfect self-presentation so it allows people to connect in a more human way, even though we aren’t in person.

I dislike the same thing that I like. While flexibility is great, it also means you have to be really disciplined about work creeping into your personal life, without commutes, coworker interaction or natural breaks built into the day. I also miss having a dress code – it’s actually nice to dress up for work from time to time and I miss that.”

“I like flexibility to manage my own schedule, and saving on commute time.

I miss seeing my colleagues at work! I also miss enjoying office perks like in-person trainings, workshops and gym classes.”

“I like the flexibility and balance. I’m able to do things like make lunch, walk the dog, and exercise is easier to fit in when you’re not spending most of your day in an office. I also love my new office mates! With my husband working from home as well, and being with our dog, I’m in good company. 

I miss the team and generally interacting with people outside of my bubble. The coffee chats, spontaneous catch-ups, the hustle and bustle of the city. I miss wearing my business clothes and shoes. While I still get dressed for video calls with the team and my clients, my home office dress code is pretty relaxed. It’s great 80% of the time, but the opportunity to switch it up would be nice.

I honestly love working from home. Have made the adjustments in my life over the last 7 years to make it work well, and can’t imagine going back to the old way of going into an office 5 days a week.”

“Since COVID, there’s increased pressure for video meetings BUT without face to face interaction in an office or customer setting, this is something to be embraced/grateful for rather than seen as invasive. People should be encouraged to bring their full-self to work. I work out of my kitchen with a large window surrounded by plants. Now, I always get asked for plant advice. I like that there’s a reduced carbon footprint of sales teams. In the past, I’d jump on a plane to fly from Toronto to Calgary for a 90 minute presentation. That is no longer a requirement or an expectation, so I have less nights alone in various cities and less environmental impact for my sales engagements thanks to video chats.

I live in a small apartment in the city, which has meant that since my partner and I are both home more often with two workspaces. There’s less living space which has put additional pressure to move. My partner has been out of work for 8 months since the industry he works in has been halted. This has added extra strain on me to work from home under normal work parameters because he’s always puttering around in the background. As I’ve been working remotely for 3+ years, I have really been feeling the isolation from missing the things that helped me keep my sanity and interaction with others – the gym, lunch meetings, networking events, visits to headquarters, onsite customer visits, etc. I also miss grabbing a coffee on my way to work or the fancy breakroom coffee machines that made taking a coffee break exciting.”

“What I love is being able to keep to my personal morning routines of yoga, meditation, walking the dog and still being able to be ready to be in meetings by 8:30 or 9am. It grounds me and makes me ready for the day, rather than the stress of getting ready, heading into traffic, standing in line at Starbucks. I also love that I do not spend a fortune on “work clothes” and dry cleaning any more. I now can invest in the pieces of fashion that I want, not expensive work wear that was only for that part of my life. I love that! I am so much more productive. I can put on music of my choice and get more done in an hour than when I was in an office with the constant disruptions. I also love being able to cook and eat in my own kitchen instead of food courts, restaurants etc. I love being able to make my own coffee, light candles, play whatever ambiance music I want for the day and my mood. I love that if in the middle of the day, I need to drive to pick up my daughter from school, I can easily do so and just take calls from the car.

What I always battle with is what I call the commitment to grounding. When you work from home you need incredible discipline to start and end your day with some form of grounding. For me it is yoga and meditation in the morning, then a walk or mini workout in the afternoon ideally in the outdoors. This grounding routine ensures I have a mental start and stop to the work day, and that I take care of myself, my creative mind and my body. IT can be REALLY easy to just wake up, pour a coffee and start in on emails. IT can be REALLY easy to be online until 8 or 9 at night. Let’s face it, work is never ending. But the grounding ensures work is not exhausting. That life isn’t only about producing. I am a better worker, vendor, leader, wife and mother when I stick to that routine. I miss the team outings. Dinners, awards shows, work events, the fun group social exchanges. There is something about the energy of a group of positive, enthusiastic entrepreneurs and visionaries in a room together!

The other thing is that sometimes, each of us can have a tough week. Whether it is a project that hits a hurdle, a miscommunication that causes stress, a personal challenge in the house… It can be tough to deal with that in the solitude of your home rather than in person. I think it demands of us that we are more open to sharing struggles and supporting others personal needs with greater attention. That way each of us can deal with the hurdle and move forward with more grace and ease. Sitting in that negative pocket can be too easy when we are on our own.”

While there are many uncertainties that plague our minds about the future of the working world and what that looks like for team camaraderie and office culture, one thing is for certain: whether at home, or in person, the Blu Ivy team is in this thing together, albeit apart. 

 

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