From gossip at the tea point to watercooler chat, I miss the office

Ireally miss the office. By which I mean I miss my colleagues, and I miss the friends with whom I happen to work. Being in a place surrounded by so many wonderful people, day after day, was such a privilege.

“Watercooler chat” has become an anachronistic term, but the spirit endures. The thrill of working in a big organisation is bumping into people constantly. A trip to the loo can yield multiple encounters with pals, be it brief waves of hello, or gossipy asides leaning on the tea point, or gales of laughter in the swapping of anecdotes. It almost makes me tearful with nostalgic longing as I write this.

The synchronised trips to the canteen to get coffee with various colleagues; the smoke breaks (when I used to smoke) arranged in a stressful moment via Google Chat (other messaging services are available, etc); perching at the end of each other’s desks, bantering sotto voce; meeting by the stairs for lunch; coalescing in the bar downstairs at 6pm; swapping gifs on email in the aftermath of an in-person conversation; flirting with the handsome mailman, asking how the receptionist’s holiday was, high-fiving my favourite cleaner.

I almost forget that there are people unfortunate enough to hate those they work with because, apart from a very few exceptions, the people I work with are an absolute joy. They are funny and smart and kind and interesting and caring. To be around them was a significant source of pleasure.

I miss scooting over to the morning editorial meeting in my chair, or chastising my friend for putting his feet on the desk during boring phone calls, or knocking on the glass for a catch-up in a side room. I miss overhearing the conversation drifting down from other teams, or our desk repartee even when all eyes are focused on screens: two parts of all our brains working at once.

I have no idea when life will be sufficiently normal for the office social structure to return, or even if it will ever be as it was. I used to work a combination of at home and in the office, but the buzz of seeing everyone again is gloriously alluring. Catch you later. I do so hope.



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