In a twist we never saw coming, Aucklanders are desperately missing the office - no, not the TV show but the actual, four walls, plenty of windows, and a bunch of people inside whom we spend eight-ish hours a day with.
It might have hit you in week one, or even week seven, but chances are the lack of social interaction has hit you at some point.
Unsurprisingly our desperation to get back to the office stems not from missing the comfy office chairs, free loo paper or vending machines - which are all fantastic perks of office life, but instead, the banter.
As social creatures, humans survive on face-to-face interaction and after being locked in our homes and out of the office for weeks on end, we really want the simple things from our work-life back. Things like going on a coffee run with our desk buddy, building relationships with our colleagues, revelling in support when we reach career milestones, and most importantly and my personal favourite, compliments when we wear a new outfit.
I just want to wear a cute dress and feel like the main character again, Cindy, please.
Sitting at my work from home desk, staring out the window I couldn't help but wonder if there were going to be any long term side effects in both our careers and mental wellbeing after being away from mass human contact for so long. So I reached out to psychotherapist and relationship counsellor Kyle MacDonald for the answers.
Why is "water cooler" chat so important for our mental wellbeing?
One word: contact. Small talk is about relating, making contact and feeling like we have emotional contact with other humans. That's hard to duplicate over Zoom - but worth trying. Regular, seemingly meaningless, contact doesn't mean anything, it makes us feel connected.
How would you suggest people keep their minds active when they don't have their usual everyday human contact?
Persevere with the online contact - even though it's not as good, it's better than nothing. And schedule safe "picnic" outside meetups so you have something to look forward to.
Do you see WFH having a long-lasting impact on career progression and/or professional relationships?
I hope not, we're all in the same boat, and in the long run, I would hope people understand that. But staying in contact with people who matter, and important professional relationships is still possible - it's important that we all have patience and understanding at the moment. Remember some are now juggling home parenting and individual differences exist between how much online contact people need.
Would you expect confidence to change following long stints of minimal face to face contact?
Changes are hard, and we know from experience that the times that tend to cause the most anxiety is going in, and coming out of "levels". So we should expect that coming out of "lockdown" will be hard and that returning to the office may very well cause anxiety for many. Once we get there the key is to take it slow, pace yourself and hopefully have some say or autonomy over how quickly - and how many days - you return to the office.