‘We Bond Over Tea’: What It’s Like To Co-Work With Strangers

After being practically housebound for the past year, staring at our own faces instead of paying attention to colleagues over Zoom, and forgetting to put ourselves on mute, working from home has been a lot.

As lockdown restrictions ease for the third time, there’s speculation over what our working lives will look like post-pandemic. Earlier this month, the minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, called for flexible working to be normalised as part of the UK economy’s Covid-19 recovery. But is that realistic?

Whether you’ve enjoyed the last 12 months working from the comfort of your own bed or found it an isolating experience, it’s clear there needs to be a middle ground between office life and at-home remote working full-time.

Co-working spaces have seen a rise in bookings in the past year – co-working space The Fisheries in London reported an 182% increase, says founder Hugo Warner – with many opting for the “halfway house” between their home and the office. And back in September, a survey found more than three in four managers in UK businesses felt ‘collaborative’ workspaces are now more suitable for their post-lockdown business models when compared to a full-time staffed office.

Provided they meet Covid-19 safety standards, and are open to those unable to work from home, some co-working spaces have been able to stay open under lockdown. But now the ‘stay at home’ message has been dropped, and lockdown is easing, it’s likely more of these spaces will open up once again.

They’re typically filled with private and communal desks with plenty of natural light, homely furniture, meeting rooms, coffee stations, and green foliage. So what’s it actually like to work in an office with strangers (at first)?

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