An indefinite return to work climate

It is crunch time for many folk. Those who have taken an extended winter break have run out of holiday, and have been summoned back to work. The big uncertainty for office staff is their firm’s ever-changing policy. Are they commuting or is it work from home for the foreseeable? Brace yourself for both eventualities is the advice.
Steve McQueen in the Thomas Crown Affair, 1968 and The Shah of Iran seated at a desk. (Photo via Getty)

The vagaries of Britain’s work climate is coinciding with the suspicions and speculation of the well-publicised ‘Partygate’ row. During a bruising PMQs in the Commons Chamber on Wednesday we heard from Boris that he attended drinks in 10 Downing Street's garden, albeit for a short time because he implicitly believed it was a work event. The shindig in question took place in May 2020, but details have only recently surfaced. His latest excuse comes in the midst of the spread of the Omicron variant, which has upended the world’s return to the office. Respecting Boris’s resistance to enforce major restrictions, the latest guidance states that “office workers who can work from home should do so”. But since Boris’s own uncertainty on the codes of the work environment has transpired, it leaves businesses and staff progressively puzzled on what the return to work form looks like post Yuletide.

Despite oodles of remote staff members resisting a change to their lifestyle, last September saw the histrionic billing of the official reintegration of office life. We verified then, that the pandemic’s acceleration towards a whole new dimension of workwear wasn’t the death knell for the suit, but merely a trigger to be more creative in how you wear it. Back in September we broke down this notion largely on the basis of returning to the office. But Omicron has splintered the business field so profusely, that the current working attire picture looks even more perplexing and opaque. It poses multiple challenges to folk who like their wardrobe to harmonize with their job commitments for the New Year. It is evidently a factor in the decision for many people to take an extended winter holiday – either braving the travel chaos to ski in St. Moritz and sunbathe in Barbados or embracing a more low-key break on British shores. But unless you’re a year-round jet-setter, next week will be crunch time in reclaiming your visual identity in the office or feeling comfortable at home, and in some people’s cases both.


    Freddie Anderson


    January 2022


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