The New Normal in the Office

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

By: Sui Ling


Sui Ling is the resident drama queen. She talks about how the new norm working life has made her even more OCD when it comes to cleanliness.


Beep beep beep – Ugh, that f***ing alarm I said, as I snoozed it to snatch some precious seconds of sleep. But no! I jumped up, that was the third alarm I’ve snoozed! Gotta get to work.


The thought of getting to work somewhat was greeted with welcome, something uncharacteristic of me. Unbelievably, I was looking forward to going to office (just short of jumping in the air and clicking my heels)!


As I hurried to my car, the excitement dissipated. Back to my old routine and in that auto mode, I’d forgotten one important thing. “SHIT! MY MASK!!” I swore under my breath as I ran back to the house.

“Gotta get into a new routine,” I reminded myself. Ever since COVID-19 plagued the world, many things have changed – right down to little but important things such as what you gotta bring with you before you head out. Right now, is not your phone or your wallet that’s important, it’s the goddamn mask.

That settled and it’s to office. I wasn’t sure if I was excited or anxious to go back to the office. That morning, my stomach decided to act funny. The pain got worse as I parked at my usual, self-claimed parking lot, then I realised I was having a gastric attack. What a way to start my first day back at the office after three months.


At the lift lobby, it was as if I’d stepped into the set of a post-apocalyptic scene of a movie. One side of the entrance was cordoned off. A security guard stood at a now smaller entrance, armed with the non-contact digital sensor thermometer. Without saying a word, he gestured with his head to office workers to scan the QR code. SELangkah-it and he directed the thermometer at the forehead and flipped it to show the temperature reading.

The mind can play tricks when I was in queue observing this process. What if it shows that I have a temperature? Then I don’t get to go to office? Just at that moment, my mind switched to another ‘you useless clod’ realisation. I’d again forgotten something very, very important that was still in my car – my arsenal of alcohol sanitiser spray and anti-bacterial wipes.


As you can see I’m very well-prepared (pat myself on the back) but just forgetful.


After having to make two trips from lift lobby to basement to lift lobby, I finally got to my office and yet another round of temperature taking and recording.


As I settled at the workstation, I just beamed. Oh, how I’ve missed my table. The office was rather quiet and kinda deserted too with, not everyone back as it is work-in-office on rotation.

Before I got down to my daily work tasks, I did the obsessive compulsive crazy thing – wiped down my work station from top to bottom and sprayed it with my alcohol sanitiser spray. The ‘scared-to-die-meh’ looks I got from my colleagues and boss said it all, but do I care? Nope, they better get used to it or I WILL be the last one standing to take over the company, muahaha!!!

The social distancing SOP actually made it great to be in the office. An empty workstation between us colleagues gave us a very welcomed spaciousness. And what I like most of all is the SOP that only one person is allowed in the washroom. Having this hang up of utmost privacy and peace in doing my big business, I no longer have to worry about anyone walking in to my private odour. Hehehe!


It has almost been three weeks since I’ve been back to the office, and I’m loving the new norm of working in the office.


Do I want this to continue? Yes and no.


Yes, because I feel I can be more productive with less distraction from more people and the buzz in the office. And the spaciousness, it is something that doesn’t come by so easily.


No, being a people-person, I kinda miss the human interaction. No one is an island, not me. While a quiet, less-distraction working environment may be a welcomed change, it is not something that is conducive for the long term when one considers that time at work makes up a huge chunk of our daily 24 hours.


COVID-19 brought us insights of a new norm. Change and adapt we may have to. But I, for one believe, that it may not all be necessarily adapted. A good mix of the old and new may be just it.


After all, if I want a clean clinical working environment and the peace and quiet that I experienced post MCO, I may as well opt to work in a sanitised bubble.


Yes, I’m willing to trade the masks and sanitisers for the good old shit of working environment, where we can prank one another, laugh it off and have a great time!

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