THE NEW WORK

Welcome Back to the Office, if It’s Still There

I didn’t realize that mine wasn’t

Julio Vincent Gambuto
4 min readMar 30, 2021

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Photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash

I was set to go back to the office today. It was such an exciting morning — so exciting that I ironed my clothes last night (a blue dress shirt and actual slacks, brown belt) and laid them out for an early rise and dress. I even polished my shoes. I haven’t gone to those lengths to prep my clothes for the day in nearly a decade. But I’ve been watching a lot of The Crown recently (in fact, all rainy Sunday), so I started the week with an unusual sense of formality…and a palpable jealousy that Prince Philip has someone on-call to dress and undress him. In my small Chelsea apartment, I am my own valet.

Truth be told, I am just so incredibly sick of sweatpants, frozen video, and that weird moment you have at 2pm daily when you realize you’re still in your pajamas and you only changed your shirt so your 11am Zoom would think you have good hygiene and some sense of purpose. It’s been a year of working at my dining room table. This winter was lonely, cold, and dark — nearly hellish. I’m done. Now that I am two vax shots in, it was just time. Time to get dressed. Time to go to the office. Time to take stock of the rubble all around us and begin to put it all back together.

But my office wasn’t there. I walked across 21st Street into the Flatiron ready for battle. And I found no troops to meet me. The plan was to get a day pass to WeWork (or whatever they call their new Hail-Mary desk service), so I could ease my way back to actually having office space. Even as a writer, I crave structure and a certain buzz of people around me, though I don’t actually talk to them most of the day. For the last 12 months, I have fended off calls, emails, and texts from WeWork’s sales team, all but begging for its tenants to return to cool co-working. We’ll be in masks, we’ll sanitize our hands, but we’ll be the daring digital nomads we once were pre-pandemic. Today I said, “Okay, let’s do it.” Mask up.

But the office was dark. The doors were locked. I peered through the tinted glass to see a collection of office phones, stacked one atop the other. Wires scattered on the desk. Huh? I knew WeWork was having some trouble, but I didn’t expect them to close a popular office in the middle of New…

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Julio Vincent Gambuto

Author + Moviemaker // Happiness in a fucked-up modern world // New book from Avid Reader Press (Simon & Schuster) // Audie Finalist // SXSW // juliovincent.com