As we return to everyday life without restrictions, lockdown sometimes feels like a lifetime ago. Last year I had started my dream job just three days before the country was thrown into a national lockdown. Normal office experiences, like getting to know your colleagues over a drink and getting the lay of the land, had to be handled virtually. After a few bumps in the road, I had finally gotten into a good routine until the word furlough was thrown in. As the newest person to join the company at the time, I assumed furlough was just a delayed firing so I was less than excited when it was offered to me.
If you know me, you know that the word relax just isn’t in my vocabulary. Even with the opportunity to have a break for four months, staying productive was my number one priority, so I turned my focus to baking and journaling. According to a survey by The Healthy Work Company, 22% of respondents had taken up a new hobby in lockdown, while 35% had rediscovered an old one. There were a few hiccups but it had been a while since I had a hobby that wasn’t for the sake of making money and it felt amazing. Journaling made sure I stayed organised and I was able to live out my best Bake Off fantasy on a daily basis.
Fast forward to now and I can’t help but feel that these hobbies will become a thing of the past once we begin commuting regularly again. Harsh, 24, an engineer from Delhi, started to learn Spanish and created Improve Dogs, a comprehensive blog that helps dog owners during lockdown. “My office reopened in July on alternate days and I love my office culture. Hanging out with my colleagues makes it much easier for me to wake up early in the morning. However, it scares me that they plan to open it with 100% employee capacity in the coming months. I feel there is no need to be a full-time office-goer. It’s getting harder and harder to maintain my hobbies.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m also excited to be back in the office, there are colleagues I haven’t even met in person yet and being able to let my bedroom just be that is exciting. But I don’t want to give up some of that spare time. Being an office escapist just isn’t in my DNA and the struggle to stay on top of my time is real!
What’s an office escapist you ask? Office escapists are people who thrive on working anywhere but their home and still have the stamina, the zeal and the motivation to keep up with all the other aspects of their lives. Whether it’s keeping up a gym routine or vibrant social life, they were the ones in your work chat counting down the days to being back at their desks. I am not one of those people.
As soon as one aspect becomes the focus, all other things fall by the wayside and sometimes it helps knowing that I’m not the only one who feels that way. “My job has been completely remote since March 2020 so it was a shock to the system to have to start going into the office again” says Ella, 28, a senior accounts payable from Kent. “I can’t help but feel a bit resentful when a blog post gets postponed or I’m still on the same page of a book after a week.”
After a year and a half of learning how to communicate virtually and navigate all the different ways we need to keep each other safe, being able to find a fun hobby during one of the worst periods of our lives was a blessing. It can feel a bit childish to complain about not having enough time to garden, sketch or even just sit and watch TV after a day of work. But if 2020 taught us anything, taking care of your mental health is one of the most important responsibilities we have. Hopefully 2021 will be the year of mastering that.
Written by Ife Adedoyin