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Working from home
Photograph: Phillip Lay

An entirely unserious guide to making your flat feel like an office

By Joe Madden

Working from home? Missing the office? Pining for sickly lighting and printer banter? Don’t sob. Recreating your workplace in your living space is simplicity itself. 

1. The server (ie a cereal box wrapped in foil with ‘The Server’ Sharpied on it) 

All-knowing, but unknowable. All-powerful, yet desperately fragile. At times, The Server is a just and benevolent God; at others, a cruel and vengeful overlord. It’s a scapegoat during times of conflict; a lifeline during moments of loss. Always present, always watching, its little LED ever blinking, blinking, blinking. 

2. ‘Seriously, guys, whose IS this?’ 

In the darkest corner of the fridge, what was once a meal-deal chicken pasta salad has evolved into something you may need to take to the vet to have humanely put down.   

3. No forks, ever 

To recreate the familiar feeling of a pitiably sad desk lunch, throw out every single fork you own. Nothing says ‘overwhelming midday ennui’ like eating couscous with a plastic spork while idly scrolling through a spreadsheet. 

4. Mmbbzzliphhhhff… 

An unidentifiable, untraceable ambient noise that you eventually fail to notice any more. So much so that when said noise unexpectedly pings off one afternoon, engulfing you in silence, you’re thrown into panic mode, convinced that the air-con/coffee machine/lighting/Server is about to action-movie explode. 

5. Unremarkable office crush 

If you’d met them out of your work context, this person would have barely nudged your needle. But being in close proximity to them on a daily basis has led to you becoming furtively fixated on them. It’s a bit like Stockholm syndrome, except with the occasional rude dream that makes morning catch-up feel weird. While WFH, keep a framed photo of them near you at all times. 

6. ‘Delivery for [someone else]’ 

‘I can sign for that,’ you announce, selflessly rising from your seat and crossing the room as if in windswept slo-mo, fully prepared to scribble on a titchy screen with your index finger, like history’s noblest humanitarian. The parcel’s not even for you. It’s not even for you. Did you order it with someone else’s name on it? Maybe.

7. A lone Post-it Note with ‘3. CLOUD MIGRATION’ scrawled on it 

You’re not sure what it means or how long it’s been up there, but you’re certain that you lack the authority to even think of removing it.   

8. Perma-tea-stained promotional mug from Zenith Data Solutions UK Ltd 

‘Digital innovations,’ it declares, ‘for high-volume workflows.’ This unloved receptacle has somehow ended up being ‘yours’. And while you claim to have no attachment to it, if anyone else were to ever drink from it, you’d experience a scalding sense of betrayal akin to catching a partner in flagrante with your cousin. 

9. Obscure drawer that you only open once every four months 

What does it contain? Uselessly tiny bulldog clips. One five-pence and four two-pence pieces. Three promotional USB-stick-bottle-openers. A dictaphone (slightly sticky) that takes tiddly cassettes. Tiddly cassettes. A pair of keys for a mystery lock, attached to plastic key fob stating ‘All my favourite people are golden retrievers’ in Comic Sans.

How to help (and get help) during lockdown.  

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