Offices are scheduled to open welcoming doors to their beloved staff all over again from 8 June. I believe that never in the vast and chequered history of Mumbai would its working populace be so eager to jump out of bed on a Monday morning and rush into office, after almost two months of relentless jhaadu-pochha, chopping vegetables and staring at walls. However, there is a caveat: only 10 per cent of staff strength will be allowed to enter the hallowed portals of these shrines of work-worship. I see the following taking place on 'Comeback Monday'...
A BOIINGG SENSOR AT THE ENTRANCE: Which means if you are not among the chosen 10, it emits a loud ‘boiingg’ alarm and simultaneously sends a rude electric shock as your feet despairingly attempt to cross the threshold. Sorry! You have to return immediately to another day of brooms and dusters.
A WASH BASIN INSTEAD OF THE RECEPTIONIST: Remember the WHO as well as Katrina/Anushka videos explaining scrubbing for at least 20 secs between your fingers? (Which by now must be 90 per cent soap and just 10 per cent fingers!) And don’t try to cheat at 17 or 18 secs. CCTV cameras are watching, and another ‘boiingg’ may just go off.
WOODEN ARMS: All said and done, namaste can never replace the spirit of bonhomie and camaraderie that prevail in the office. Every desk will have a wooden arm placed near it which can be used to shake hands, slap each other on the backs, or for hi-fives on completion of a task or just to express relief that you are not at home dusting windows.
VOICE UNSCRAMBLERS: These are little mask-attachments provided to the chosen 10 so that what you’re saying behind your face-sheath is not misunderstood. In these already depressing times, corporates have decided they don’t want to risk communicating mayhem to clients. Especially when you’re speaking on the phone. So that when you say “here are our latest achievements” it doesn’t sound like bereavements. Or when you announce “I’ll get that done, quick” it is not a cheerful, chirpy “I’ll get that done, prick”.
LOO LIMITERS: This one is for the guys. The men’s loo was always the place where men would be....men! There was much joy and fellowship to be had, standing adjacent to each other while in full flow and exchanging bawdy jokes with the chaps. No such luck now. Offices will be installing ‘Hold Your Horses’ limiters, that will only grant you access once the spray-gun ahead of you has finished his job.
So there you have it. The place you return to, is going to be hardly recognisable from the one you last visited some two months ago. And please be careful not to cough or sneeze while at work. You might suddenly discover the conference room is now a quarantine zone and like the Eagles sang in Hotel California ‘you can check out any time you like...but you can never leave’.
(The author has worked with Rediffusion, Dentsu and RK Swamy BBDO in the past and is currently running Rain 7.)