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Office at home
Illustration: Bryan Mayes

26 ways to recreate your old office at home

Life-changing tips for anyone missing the nine to five

By Time Out London editors
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The song was right: sometimes you really don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. Pizza buffets, mosh pits, street magic, all things you didn't appreciate properly before lockdown cruelly took them away, last year.

The most surprising thing for which many of us now pine? The humble London office. That old place. It wasn't that long ago that you were complaining to anyone who would listen about how your desk was right underneath the air con and that lunch options were limited to 'just' Leon, a Franco Manca, two Prets and four different supermarket Meal Deals. But now... now you understand how wonderful your office was. You would give anything to waltz through that hallowed lobby again.

Without any further ado (offices hate ado) we present to you 26 ways to recreate the 'London office experience' in your own home:

1. Walk around the block twice before starting work. This simulates the journey from Tube station to office, a period of time traditionally used by London workers to 'get in the zone'. Why not listen to Santana's 1998 track 'Smooth (feat. Rob Thomas)' while walking? You're going to smash some targets today!

2. Make yourself a really boring but healthy packed lunch and then get a Tesco Meal Deal instead of eating it.  

Office tea round
Illustration: Bryan Mayes

3. Introduce your housemate to ‘tea-round etiquette’. Important to note: when you bring someone their beverage always say ‘sorry, I think I made it too milky’ at which point they have to respond ‘ah, no worries, it looks perfect’. Also: when it comes to making yourself a brew, bring it to your laptop on a tray to add to the sense of occasion. 

4. Put on music you don't really want to listen to, just to please everyone and no one at the same time. Capital FM, for example.

5. Hotdesk, baby! If you previously worked at a progressive, tech-savy startup, then you probably miss having a choice of places to plonk your laptop down every day. Remedy this by swapping with your flatmate at the kitchen table on a rota basis or simply wake up earlier than them so you get first dibs. Sorry, Fiona. Early bird and all that.

6. Ask ‘anyone want anything from outside?’ every time you go out. Even if you live alone.

7. Go all-out with pass-agg fridge notes. These can range from entry-level passive aggressiveness (‘This is my special almond milk, please do not drink’) to Defcon 4 (‘This milk was made from hand-reared almonds cultivated in the Andean altiplano. if you want to just chug it out the carton like a savage, go right ahead!’).

8. Sit in your chair. Then stand up, look at it, and say ‘this isn't my chair’.

9. Wear a suit. Because dressing up smart is quite fun sometimes? Makes a change from what you're wearing now, doesn't it? What would your boss say if they could see you as you currently are? They'd fire you. And then they'd fire themselves for having hired you in the first place. Why not observe an inverted dress-down Friday? Straighten-Up And Fly Right Friday. 

10. Every time you have a video call, step into the bathroom shower cubicle and close the door. If any of your flatmates come in to use the loo, look up from your screen and mouth at them ‘I have this room booked’.

11. Eat a whole Colin the Caterpillar cake every 10 days.

Office typing
Illustration: Bryan Mayes

12. Stick a stock photo of an office worker with a kind face to the wall above your desk and refer to them as your office crush. Bae! 

13. If you work in finance, have ‘The Apprentice’ playing on a loop in the background to emulate the white-hot sales banter and alpha dog atmosphere of your old Boiler Room. Awooo! Someone hand you some leads: you're in the mood to sell, sell, sell!

14. On bad terms with a neighbour? Harness the tension and reimagine them as your new 'boss'. For added realism make sure the chosen neighbour is male and white.

15. Stick some home-made lasagna in your fridge and then monitor it for six weeks. Who left that thing in there? Has it gone mouldy? Jeez, they probably just expect the cleaner to get rid of it, ffs. Some people.

16. Loudly ask anyone wearing clothes even a tiny bit smarter than a t-shirt and jeans ‘what time's the job interview?’. This is annoying but also funny, despite what others may say.

17: Replicate the effects of a glamorous 1970's ‘liquid lunch’ by shotgunning two cans of extra-strength lager between Zoom calls.

18. Develop a crush on Vincent the postman to replace that absolute smoke-stack you used to see three times a week on the Piccadilly Line. 

19. Derive a sense of smug superiority by advertising for your next flat-mate in PC Gamer magazine. Bingo bongo: you're now ‘mates with the guy in IT’ again.

20. Write something funny-but-not-too-funny in a card and then pass it to someone else. Then simulate the white-hot drama of a missing birthday card kitty by stuffing an envelope full of loose change and asking your housemate to 'hide it' somewhere. 

21. Relive those famous 'Monday morning feels' by downing three pints before 7.30pm on a Friday and sending your boss a voice note of yourself rapping the lyrics to Young MC's 'Bust A Move'. 

22. Steal toilet paper from your upstairs toilet and take it to the downstairs toilet.

Office crap table junk food
Illustration: Bryan Mayes

23. Set up the 'hog-station' table. Leftover birthday cake. Pastries and sandwiches from a meeting. Wander over to take a curious look and pick up a few bits and return to your desk. Then repeat nine times until it's all gone and you hate yourself.

24. Scroll to the very bottom of your Whattsapp chats and ask someone you barely know if they've watched that Britney Spears documentary yet. Hey presto: you're having an authentic 'water-cooler chat'. 

25. Say ‘I think I'd like for HR to be present’ when your flatmate asks you if you took the bins out this morning.

26. Never ever turn off your computer for any reason ever.

Quickly! Take this quiz to see how much you miss actual London!

The lockdown experience, as summed up by 11 of our favourite illustrators

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