The Post Pandemic Office Experience

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I traveled to Pasadena, CA this week to work with a few other Redgaters in an office. There was a get together planned this week for the entire staff, many of whom have not seen each other in a year. Some have never met. When I heard about this, I requested permission to go. My request was approved, and I spent a couple of days in our LA WeWork space.

I had mentioned I was coming in our Slack channel, and reached out to a few people, hoping to get some people in the office while I was there. I flew out early one morning, with a view I hadn’t seen in a long time.

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I enjoy flying into LA, crossing the mountains and desert, seeing landmarks along the way, watching the transition from nature to very developed (and large) city. It always makes me smile. In this case, I arrived and quickly got a Lyft up to the office. Along the way I had gotten a note from someone that masks were needed in the common spaces, and a few phone numbers to text for admission.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’ve seen various incarnations of co-working spaces. In this case, WeWork is a large space that’s been cut down and separated with lots of glass walls. There is a lot of security in our building, and I needed someone to use a card to activate the elevator, as well as leave the elevator lobby area. Inside, there are lots of small offices, containing 1, 2, 4, or more desks. While it’s a space where you can see far through the glass walls, it’s also small as there are lots of walls.

Here’s an example of a larger space, with 5 desks, but I saw plenty of much smaller offices with 1 or 2 desks.

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Redgate has their own space, which is separated from others. Almost all offices have a separate key card entry system.

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My first day, there were 4 of us in the office. I knew them all, and I contact them regularly on Slack or in Zoom calls, but it was nice to sit and be able to chat with them in person. Inside our offices, we didn’t have to wear masks, but the coffee machine and bathroom were outside, so I kept mine handy in a pocket.

We did have a small snack area, which was nice. It felt a little abandoned though, with few of us around.

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There were really 4 separate areas of desks, and I had one to myself. I almost started to set up next to someone, but then a few people got on the phone and I realized how loud it can be. All the glass and relatively low ceilings make it hard to work in a group, at least in our space.

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We went out to lunch, and took some breaks to talk about work or life, and it felt normal, albeit rather limited with so few people.

The second day was better, with about 10-12 people in the office. It was much louder and a little harder to work, but it felt like a busy organization again. I liked it, and was glad I had the chance to experience it.

As with many things during this pandemic, things changed. There was an order from the Pasadena Health Department that took effect between my first and second days noting that we had to wear masks, even in our own space. Annoying, but not that much of a problem. I suspect that might keep some people from coming back, or at least make them think about coming less frequently.

We also had a get-together at a local pub. We were outside, and most of the California staff came. It was interesting in that 8-10 were people no one had met. People hired during the pandemic, who had been working 100% remote while with the company. That was a little strange, but it’s how life goes.

We talked, laughed, and appreciated the time to get together. I realize that I do enjoy going to an office some time, and I’m hoping I’ll get back to Pasadena 2-3 times a year. It was a good trip, long and tiring for me with two early flights, but great for my mental health, and a way to catch up with people that I haven’t seen in a long time.

I hope more people come back, at least part time, as it seemed we all missed the chance to get together and talk.

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