by Nicole Loughan
It’s been five long years since I’ve worked in an office. I left a great job to raise my children and things have really changed, both in me and in the workforce. One change, that took me by surprise, was that I have become so settled in my home life I became scared of the office life. A complete turnaround from my feelings of five years ago, back when I was afraid to leave my job.
However, a perfect opportunity came my way. It’s exactly what I’d put on my job wish list. When I made the list, I didn’t know what the job would be or if it would exist. First, I wanted it to be at a school, so it would follow my kids’ schedules. I also wanted it to be flexible. I wanted the location and scenery to be beautiful around me. I wanted the job to be mostly writing about creative events and I wanted the commute to be easy and stress-free. Then, just like that scene in Mary Poppins where the children make a list for the perfect nanny and send it up the chimney, I got my wish. The Mary Poppins of jobs showed up at my door, writing for the news and events section of a picturesque and art heavy private school.
I arranged childcare with a person I trust completely and told my kids about the gig, which requires my presence one day per week. They were happy and both seemed far less concerned than I was about the change to our lives. With their well wishes, I took off to work, for the first time in five years. I ironed my clothes, filled a brand new decorative travel mug with coffee, and left the house all by myself.
The first week was awesome. I don’t know what I was so worried about, but I don’t know how mom’s that go back full-force manage it. It’s so scary to make such a big change. I have to take a moment here to recognize those mother’s that go to work every day and always have because they either had to or wanted to, it takes incredible strength to work and raise kids. For those that stepped out of the workforce like me there are some big changes in the office, read on to see what you might have missed.
Technology – Office technology has changed significantly. Last time I was in an office I was using Office XP. Today, new Windows and Microsoft office programs are much better and more intuitive than ever. Back in the old days, I used to keep my schedule in Outlook. Which I would print at the beginning of the week and tuck into my hand-held paper planner so that I always had my schedule with me. Not so any longer. Now, I have my schedule linked to an app on my phone, so that no matter where I am I can both check my schedule and update it. The desktop program talks to the app.
Watches are gone – Nobody wears watches anymore. At least not an analog ticker, they are all smartwatches now. Time is kept by phones and if you look down at wrists it seems just about everybody is wearing a step counting device or smartwatch. Workplaces have gotten very into employee fitness and people seem to be checking in with each other to see how many steps they are getting.
The new brew – Travel mugs for coffee and tea have gotten more sophisticated. I used to carry around a plastic mug with a flip top from Manhattan Bagel, but now I have floral a ceramic travel mug with a silicone ring on the top. I’ve noticed people all around me rocking the ceramic silicon combo. It seems the travel mug has become a form of expression and there is a wide array of them to choose from.
LuLaRoe is everywhere – Leggings have infiltrated offices. When I left the workforce, nobody would have dared think of leggings as work attire, now leggings are all throughout the office. Not that I mind, but I was surprised to see them worn with tunics as office-friendly garb.
Security – this is specific to schools, but in the past when I worked for schools there were background checks. They have gotten far more serious and extensive. It’s a sad reality of the current state of the world that we must be more careful around children than ever. If you are going to work for a school, be prepared for extensive vetting, and a fourteen-day wait for clearances to come in.