04 June 2020

El amor en los tiempos del corona: A Slow Return to the Office

Tuesday, May 26: After working from home for more than ten weeks, I decided to check out and venture back in the office. Most of our buildings were closed, and only a handful of buildings were open for business, since most of the colleagues were working from home. We were running a pilot program which meant that standard rules didn't apply. If we wanted to work in the office, we needed to notify someone that we wanted to work on site, and a desk was assigned for our use. I therefore ended up working using space that was somewhere else than my typical location.

I wanted to know how I felt about the whole thing. So I woke up early and did my routine, which was typical until the whole pandemic started. By 9:30 I was in the office, conducting meetings in meetings rooms, instead of talking through video calls on my laptop. And I must say, that was fun. I was glad to be back. Although of course, I am not sure I want to be back daily, at least, I don't think I am ready for that yet.

See, working in the office was fine. It felt clean: the cleaning colleagues came multiple times a day. I saw people disinfecting door handles, light switches, everything you can imagine a person would touch. There are disinfectant dispensers everywhere: in front of the lifts, by the kitchens, by the restrooms, in several other places. Doors that were typically closed either opened automatically or were kept always open, to reduce the possibility of contact. Overall, I thought the office environment was definitely safe.

However, the commute can at times be scary. Yes, there's less than 400 people who are currently infected in Berlin. Yet there are signs that people seem to act like everything is normal and there is no danger anymore. Most people wear masks in public, yet there's the occasional person or two who don't. And sometimes, the trains can have more people than you might be comfortable with. So things are definitely not yet back to normal.

I might try to be back at the office every other day, or at least once a week. We'll see. Definitely not yet every day. But in any case, I also have the idea that I don't want this to restrain my activities, and I'd rather keep a rational approach to the situation, without panicking or over-reacting.

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