Work relationships in lockdown: 15 things you’ll know to be true if you talk to your colleagues more than anyone

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Kayleigh Dray
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Because, whether it’s over Zoom or in IRL, our colleagues have become our whole world in lockdown.

1) Meetings never finish on time

Everyone goes into the Zoom meeting with the best intentions, but then… well, someone’s dog will wander into the background and everyone will want to say hello to it. Or someone will spot another person eating and ask what they’re munching on, prompting a 20-minute tangent about everyone’s favourite flavour crisp. (Incidentally, this writer is as basic as they come, and would like to make it known that hers is salt & vinegar).

2) And on that note…

Everyone knows what everyone has eaten for breakfast, what they’re planning for lunch, what snacks they’re considering, and even what they’re hoping to rustle up for dinner. Because, yeah, food is a big talking point at the moment. It might even be the talking point of lockdown. Go figure.

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3) Swearing is very much A Thing now

Gone is the polite business chat of old; nowadays, you’re all fucking bewildered by the shit going on in the world, and you’re more than happy to tell everyone as much, too!

4) Ranting is also very much allowed

Is someone having a bad day? Take the fucking mic, my friend, and tell us all about it. Your Zoom window will be filled with a sea of sympathetic ears.

5) But you still remind each other to look on the bright side

Sometimes, it’s just as easy as asking everyone to share one good thing that’s happened to them that day. Because, sometimes, that’s all it takes to lift the mood.

Lockdown life: You have about 5 conversations going on via different mediums, including Zoom.

6) TV is everything

If you’re not up-to-date with the latest episode of The Serpent, or binged your way through all of Netflix’s Bridgerton, then prepare to have it ruined for you. Because everyone else has seen everything, and they want to talk about it right now, spoilers be damned!

7) You become part-therapist, part-sleep expert

As Stylist’s Megan Murray notes: “When your colleagues are the first faces you see in the morning, it prompts a recap of how everyone’s finding it hard to sleep at the moment, or what their mood is, which usually leads to all of us trying to theorise why one person is dreaming about their old boss and why another finds it impossible to get out of bed when their alarm goes off.”

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8) As such, you’re incredibly invested in their personal dramas

Did they manage to sort their WiFi out? Did they tell their flatmate what they really think of them? Did they manage to resolve that situation with the accidental ‘send to all’ WhatsApp message? And did they manage to track down a jar of Marmite yet? You need to know. You need to know it all, and you don’t know why.

9) And there’s a fair bit of oversharing

“Like, did I really just kill that morning meeting by rabbiting on about the ex I text after two glasses of wine last night?” says Stylist’s Hollie Richardson.

WhatsApp hack
Sometimes, a seven-minute voice note via WhatsApp is required with your best work pal.

10) You have, ooh, about 5 conversations going on via different mediums

You’re chatting with them face-to-face on Zoom, but you’re also sending them businessy-looking files via Slack and not-so-businessy memes via WhatsApp. Obviously.

11) … including the inevitable voice notes

Because sometimes, just sometimes, a seven-minute debriefing is required with your best work pal.

12) The standard team birthday present has become a lot more thoughtful

Once upon a time, it was gift vouchers or a Colin the Caterpillar Cake (maybe even both, if you were lucky). Nowadays, though, it’s incredibly niche and thoughtful gifts that feel like something your BFF would have sourced. This writer, for example, received a pair of personalised socks with her rescue dog’s gorgeous face printed all over them. And she loved it, thank you very much.

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13) You’ve stopped using ‘how are you?’ as a cursory greeting

With everything going on at the moment, you’ve all made a point of checking in with one another and listening to what you all have to say. “How are you?” has become “Are you OK?”, and it’s prompting people to get honest about their emotions in the best possible way.

An illustration of a video call
In lockdown, your colleagues feel less like colleagues, more like family

14) You cheer one another on and lift one another up

Has someone been for a run today? Amazing, good for them! Did someone else have a go at cutting their own hair? Epic! And did someone else have pizza for breakfast? Outstanding stuff!

15) Because you’re all less like colleagues, and more like family at this point

In the absence of your real family (bloody lockdown, am I right?), you’ve developed something like a family dynamic, complete with love, dysfunction, irrational irritations, squabbles, Zoom happy hours, and an overbearing ‘mother’ who keeps chastising you for not getting enough fresh air or drinking enough water. Standard.

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Images: Alessia Armenise/Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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