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Are you office ready as WFH comes to an end?

Maybe you’re desperate to go back – or clinging to the kitchen table. Either way, the workplace beckons. Our writers are on hand to dispense orientation, sympathy and new lanyardsFor anyone in charge of a school-age child, this is “school supplies” season: queueing in the only shop that sells your scratchy uniform, picking a pencil case, the narky crush in Clarks. (If you think that’s stressful, try living in Belgium, where school supplies demands are as esoteric and difficult to parse as the Voynich manuscript). All that preparation – the sharpening of crayons, ironing of name tags and ticking of lists – gives a welcome focus for the galloping anxiety the new academic year often awakens. Because September is the real high-stakes “new year, new you” and this time round, it’s not just for kids. Many companies are taking advantage of the new school year to encourage – or a more muscular verb – workers back in-person, not on-screen. Those of us who worked remotely are the lucky ones, but from doctors to delivery riders, a huge swathe of the workforce did not have the luxury of elastic waistbands and a safe, cosy home office. Now we’re anxious. We haven’t seen our colleagues unpixellated for 18 months and these were not, if I can generalise, our finest months. We grieved, feared and vegetated; we got addicted to Bourbons, or videos of cats sneezing. Our working routines became, hmm, idiosyncratic – the third breakfast, the 2pm nap, the 4am primal scream – and we forgot what “business casual” means, or whether it’s a good thing. As with school, getting back to the office going back might mean boredom, bullies and the grey, alienating drag of doing what you’re told all day. But like school, it might also be a chance for reinvention: who are we now? Perhaps we’re actually wiser, kinder, better. Failing that, there’s the consolation prize of a functioning printer. So write your adult supplies list – blister plasters, emergency biscuit, stain remover, paper bag to breathe into if it gets too much – and look out your lanyard: the office is back. Emma Beddington Continue reading…