Return to office merely a dispiriting reminder of how annoying colleagues are in person

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Employees returning to the office for the first time in over a year and a half are facing up to the harsh reality that working in the same room as their colleagues once again is not as great as they remember.

Simon Williams, an employee of legal firm Slapp, Tickell and Wrythe LLP, returned to the office yesterday after working from home since March last year.

“As I walked in, I thought, you know, it’s actually great to be back here and out of the house.

“No more sitting by myself in the spare room being regularly interrupted by the missus to be told some inane gossip about her cousin Tracey’s new boyfriend or whatever, and as much chocolate as I can afford to buy from the vending machine in the lobby without being judged for having four or five Snickers in a day.”

He went on, “But then just half an hour of sitting merely feet away from my colleagues was enough to make me yearn for working from home again.

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“Martin, nice guy though he is, crunches Hula-Hoops throughout the day at about a hundred and fifty decibels, and the suggestion that he eats a softer alternative like Skips fell on deaf ears; deaf ears being something I’m now jealous of.

“And I’d forgotten how strong Claire’s perfume is! Made my eyes water so much I could barely see my screen.”

Mr Williams, along with all his colleagues apart from Martin who ‘prefers the banter in the office to over Zoom’, requested flexible working to allow splitting his time between the office and home, but was refused.

He told us, “I can now see why in American offices they each have their own little booths – so they don’t have to see, hear, or smell each other.”