Covid-19 Has Not Killed Off The Office
GQ India|October 2020
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Covid-19 Has Not Killed Off The Office
The truth is, it died years ago
Tony Parsons

OK, it’s possible the New Musical Express (NME) in the late 1970s was not your typical office. There have been few places of work where you could arrive to find Debbie Harry sitting on your chair, or Iggy Pop sitting on your girlfriend, or The Jam waiting patiently for a minicab to Twickenham, so we could knock (uninvited) on Pete Townshend’s front door – which was how we celebrated Paul Weller’s 18th birthday. But here’s the funny thing: In many ways, I reckon my long-lost NME office, that rock ’n’ roll Narnia, was not so different from all the other offices in the western world at the time.

In the final decades of the 20th century, the office was a social forum, networking opportunity and dating app. In the office you built friendships and business relationships – often they were impossible to tell apart – that would endure for a lifetime. The office was a vocational school where you learned your trade from the masters. Your adult life finally had liftoff in the office.

It was, to paraphrase Village People, the place to make real your dreams.

It is widely accepted that Covid-19 dealt a death blow to the era of the office. Millions of happily lapsed commuters discovered they could work efficiently from home with pretty much the same tech they would be using in the office. So, as the world emerged blinking into life after lockdown, obituaries – and love letters, eulogies and teary laments – for the workplace were everywhere.


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October 2020