Month 1 in isolation: diary of an office worker

10 months ago Stuart Boner and Mathew Peters

Agnieszka Boeske Ky0lj K Gar78 Unsplash

​It’s been a month since much of the UK workforce started working from home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, many people are now getting used to doing their jobs (and everything else) differently. Covering video calls, musical choices and whether or not to start watching Narcos, Stuart Bonner and Mathew Peters share their diary from the first month.

Week 1

We were told everyone needs to work from home and not come into the office wherever necessary. Absolute result! Love working from home. I keep meaning to start Narcos on Netflix, maybe now I’ll have the time! No more commute!

I feel a bit sorry for our IT guy. He’s being pulled from pillar to post. He’s just tried to organise a companywide Microsoft teams training session. Like teaching kindergarten, who would have thought recruiters were so IT illiterate. Or is that just me?

I get the feeling WhatsApp will be very important for team interaction and celebrating small wins on a regular basis. Interesting times ahead.

Had our first MS Teams session. One of the team wore a suit that we could all see, but only pants on when he stood up. Very funny! Lots of banter.

The better half and I came up with lots of good songs to wash our hands to: Take That’s classic “It only takes a minute girl, to wash your hands, to wash your hands” and Reef’s classic “Wash your hands now, wash your hands now. Wash your hands now, wash your haaaaandds, NOW!” were our personal favourites.

Week 2

Love MS Teams, talking lots as a team. A few of us have come up with some games we can do to mix up our Team calls and there’s talk of a pub quiz. Should be fun!

Business has dried up very quickly, but we’re staying positive. A lot of us went through a tough market in 2008. We’ll get through this and come out the other side stronger.

It’s getting serious out there though, more serious than I first thought. Seriously people, what is it with pasta and toilet roll, I just don’t get it!

Hands are getting a bit dry now, stupid songs! And I have seven white hairs in my beard now. There were only three before COVID-19.

What a great speech by the chancellor!

Haven’t started Narcos yet…

Week 3

I’m now getting sent the same meme on every WhatsApp group I have. They’re all repeats. Getting boring. And no, I don’t want to see another made up song about the virus – these people are exploiting this opportunity to gain more views on social media…! Reminds me, I must do more on LinkedIn come to think of it – spread the word to my clients I’m still here…

Furlough a reality for quite a few people now, very stressful times, worrying but staying positive.

We’ve heard that China has started to see life return to normal. That’s good news. Hopefully we’ll be the same, although with the weather changing here’s hoping people abide by the rules and stay at home!

I’ve now got Houseparty and can see all my clients joining. Do I “friend request” them? I also have Google Hangouts, Zoom and every other video conferencing known to the world! Had a pub quiz with the family this weekend, missing them all. Oh hang on, ANOTHER MS Teams call coming through…

And why am I eating so much butter? It was usually only about half a pack per week. It has easily quadrupled in quantity. I suppose when everything else is uncertain, butter remains an old friend. Who knew!

My wife has been furloughed and came into our home office this morning and asked me why I was working. I replied, “because its Monday.” She looked vacant until she remembered that the days of the week are still a thing. She has “other jobs” for me. I’m worried.

Given up on Narcos.

Week 4

Stay at home people! What’s wrong with you all? Do you think they’re the same people who are clapping the NHS? It’s so often the few that let the many down. Maybe we’ll be in for total lockdown soon.

I seem to be constantly on MS Teams now. I swear I never spoke to the team this much when I was in the office! Cursing it!

I’ve switched off notifications on WhatsApp. Doing my head in. It’s bleeping every five seconds.

I found myself actually agreeing with a few things that Piers Morgan was saying this morning. What’s happened to me, am I slowly losing the plot!?

My wife and I have started a gardening blog for our own and hopefully others’ mental and physical wellbeing. It is called “Trowel and Error” and is available on all good Instagram accounts.

Lots of clients coming round to the idea of online onboarding and recruitment still happening in isolated pockets. Small green shoots but I’ll take it! Lots more furloughing across the industry, hopefully we can stay strong and ride this out.

I have started to write a play, in the style of Samuel Beckett, about a pair of mismatched upper middleclass city professionals in the apocalyptic post-COVID-19 world. It shall be called “Waiting for Ocado.”

I have heard many bad jokes about COVID-19, but no one in the office to share them with to see their “that’s comedy gold” reactions. For example: “Germans have started stockpiling sausages and cheese on a massive scale; they seem to be preparing for the wurst kase scenario. In Greece, supplies of houmous and taramasalata are at an all-time low – douple-dip recession confirmed. Really don’t like working from home, missing the banter of office life!