Going Back

By Robert Goldman

November 12, 2020 5 min read

You never thought the day would come.

You've been working remotely for so long and enjoying it so much that the idea that you would have to go back to an office seemed, well, remote. But with vaccines on the horizon and employers not exactly thrilled about paying rent on tens of thousands of square feet of empty office space, the days when your commute is the distance from your bedroom to your kitchen table will inevitably come to an end.

It's true! No matter how productive you have been, if you need a salary for frivolous expenses like food, you will have no choice but to leave your cozy home office hideaway and trudge back to work. (Or take the bus. Or the freeway. Either way, it's a trudge.)

I'd write you an excuse — "Billy can't come in to work today. He's too comfy working from home in his jam-jams." — but I can't. What I can do is remind you what to expect when you do get back to working at work.

For example:

The Information Technology Department

When you have a computer problem at home, you fix it yourself. You may have to enlist a 12-year-old neighbor to help, but together, you got it done.

When you return to the office, your computer is the property of the information technology department, "IT" to its friends, not that it has any.

The first rule of IT is that you must never, ever touch your computer. Thinking of plugging in your computer? That's a no-no. How about unplugging your computer? That's grounds for firing if you're lucky or a firing squad if you're not.

As your IT professional will explain in terms a 5-year-old would understand, only trained IT professionals are capable of understanding the awesome power of the company's computers, which operate in something called "the cloud."

Only trained IT professionals can see this cloud. If a mere mortal saw the cloud, they would immediately melt in the face of its awesome power.

This is why IT professionals laugh at your computer problems. It's not that they don't care. It's that they're not human.

The Human Resources Department

The Human Resources Department, or "HR" to its enemies, which it has many, may have been working with you on a remote basis during your exile from the office. Now that you are back, you will be able to meet face to face with the friendly folks who patiently explained that your health insurance doesn't pay for doctor visits, your 401(k) payment was automatically invested in a gluten-free sludge startup and your paycheck actually was deposited on time in the checking account of a veterinary gastroenterologist in Ashtabula, Ohio.

All of which they did at your request, and they have the paperwork to prove it.

You're free to drop in at HR at any time, but I wouldn't advise visiting at lunchtime.

Seeing a bunch of zombies tearing the flesh off a stray intern isn't pretty.

The Office Services Department

When you work from home, and you need a pencil, you could steal one from your kid's backpack. Easy-peezy. When you're back in the office, this kind of unsupervised behavior is verboten.

Instead of reaching for what you need, reach instead for a requisition. Simply fill out the three-page form in triplicate, sending one copy to office services, one copy to the finance department and one copy to the accounting department, which will determine if the pencil is a form of compensation and must be included on your W-2 to be taxed. Rest assured, it will be.

Once you make your request, expect to wait two or 10 months while office services determines if your pencil use is within guidelines. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but if every employee was as frivolous with pencils as you, it could mean thousands of dollars in pencil costs, which go right to the bottom line, which no one can even draw, since selfish spendthrifts like you have used up the entire pencil budget.

Remember: Using the final three-quarters of an inch of a pencil, never turning on your computer and never complaining to HR when your manager insists you start wearing pants to meetings are all signs of company loyalty, which will be rewarded, if not in this pay period then in the next life, where, if you're good, and if HR approves, and if IT connects to the cloud, you'll be working at home forever.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: congerdesign at Pixabay

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