I miss Wonder Woman: how do I bring the office home with me?

Clare Walsby

I miss Wonder Woman. And Princess Leia. And my Tottenham mug. 

These are some of the things currently taking up space on my desk at work, along with the usual stationery, paper and Post-It lists of things I haven’t done yet. And I miss them.

As is the same for a large number of us, I am self-isolating and working from home. And while I sit at my makeshift desk (read: dining table), surrounded by papers and trying in vain to make our home laptop deal with 21st Century video conferencing software (why can’t anybody hear me?!) – I am struck by all the things I miss about daily life in an office. The banter. The tea-making. The listening-in on others’ conversations, the interjection, the misunderstandings, the jokes and the laughter. But most of all, I miss the people.

This was made even clearer to me when my wonderful colleague Odette was dispatched across London to bring me some essential bits from the office that I would now need at home. As we met at the train station, standing two metres from each other, I said, slightly desperately, “Do you fancy a coffee? We can sit outside in the fresh air?”. I hadn’t realised how keen I was to talk to a teammate, someone who could tell me the ins and outs of the office, how people were feeling and share ideas about what we could do to help. As the Operations Manager at McPin it is vital that I am where the team are, able to talk to them face-to-face and listen to their issues. Intuition and emotional intelligence also play a huge part – how can I do that from my living room?

As Odette and I sat in the sunshine (an appropriate distance apart) drinking tea, laughing and eating pastries, we truly understood the value of colleague companionship, and began to think of things we could do to bring the team together in our isolated locations, bringing a sense of the office to our homes. As the Operations team, we both feel a bit at sea being apart from those who it is our daily job to support. At McPin we work to improve the lives of those with mental health issues through research, so we know more than most the detrimental impact self-isolation can have.

So, in the spirit of sharing and supporting everyone trying to find a way through these uncertain times, here are a few of the things we are planning to bring the McPin team together and bring the office environment home:

  • A drop-in ‘tea and chat’ video conference every morning, to allow everyone to see each other’s faces and reconnect. No need to talk about work, just to share thoughts and experiences (like how no one can buy toilet roll anymore and what everyone can see behind your head…)
  • A daily ‘office banter’ email every afternoon. This may contain quizzes, riddles, questions, pictures – just something to allow a break from work, just as a desk-side chat would do.
  • Photo sharing – What can you see from your window? Take a photo of your favourite thing on the wall in your house. What’s the strangest present you’ve ever bought/received? Using visual, as well as written communication is important to stimulate the different parts of the brain, and serves as a great reminder of life beyond your own four walls.
  • Fitness Club – at McPin we have a Running Club that ran every Thursday lunchtime. We will be encouraging the team to take a break every Thursday to do some exercise, be it running, dancing or yoga via YouTube tutorial. This is vital to maintaining health and wellbeing, especially when social events are limited.
  • In the same vein, a weekly Step Challenge to see how many the team can do. Cue phone calls whilst walking up and down the stairs and video conferences walking on the spot…
  • Book Club – ever been meaning to start a new initiative at work and never had the time? A colleague of mine asked if we could start a Book Club, and with people confined at home with more time to read, this may be a good way to bring people together, promote discussion and encourage reading for pleasure.
  • Film/Boxset Reviews – as with the Book Club, spaces where people can make recommendations of their favourite things and inspire others to try something new will keep us going in such restricted circumstances.

Will all these ideas work? Watch this space, but sharing ideas and supporting each other will be how we will hopefully weather this storm. If you have any other ideas you would like to share, please use the hashtag #imisswonderwoman and we can all help to bring some office home to bring our colleagues together. Until I see Wonder Woman again, I wish you all a safe and happy working from home.

Clare Walsby is the Operations Manager at McPin.  After training and working as a dancer, Clare has been involved in a variety of different roles in the charity and education sectors.