Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: This Is the Future of Work

Introducing the DESK–BED™, a revolutionary new way to work from home.
November 20, 2020, 2:16pm
LROTW1
Photos via Gumtree
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? DESK–BED™, THE NEW ALL-IN-ONE-OFFICE SOLUTION YOUR BUSINESS CAN’T AFFORD TO BE WITHOUT—
Where is it? DESK–BED™ IS AN INTEGRATED SLEEP–WORK SOLUTION THAT DOES AWAY WITH THE TRADITIONAL PROBLEMS THAT IS LOSING YOUR BUSINESS VALUABLE TIME, MONEY AND CLIENTS. DO YOU FIND YOUR EMPLOYEES:
— HAVE TO COME TO WORK IN THE MORNING?
— HAVE TO LEAVE AGAIN AT NIGHT? 
— GO TO A PERSONAL LEISURE SPACE, OR “HOME”, TO DO NON-WORK ACTIVITIES LIKE COOK, EAT AND RECLINE?
— DO YOUR EMPLOYEES “SLEEP” THROUGH THE “NIGHT”, NEVER ONCE WAKING UP IN A COLD SWEAT – SLEEP, TO THEM, A BRITTLE SORT OF UNCONSCIOUSNESS–ADJACENT PERIOD, RATHER THAN EIGHT HOURS OF FULL REST – NEVER ONCE WAKING UP WITH A COLD SWEAT WORMING OVER THEIR SKIN AND THEIR BODY, ANXIETY LIKE A BALL OF WIRE WOOL IN THE PIT OF THEIR STOMACH, WORRYING THAT THEY HAVEN’T DONE ENOUGH TO MOVE THE NEEDLE OF THE STOCK MARKET YOUR WAY, TODAY, AND THAT IN FACT THEY SHOULD WAKE UP NOW – IT IS 4AM, A FULL HOUR-AND-A-HALF EARLIER THAN THEY NORMALLY HAVE TO WAKE UP TO SHOWER AND DRESS AND COMMUTE IN TIME TO MAKE YOUR FRANKLY PSYCHOTIC 7 AM START TIME – WAKE UP NOW AND GET AHEAD OF THE DAY, WAKE UP NOW AND PUT TROUSERS ON AND START MAKING YOU MONEY? DOES THAT HAPPEN EITHER TOO MUCH OR NOT ENOUGH? EVEN I DON’T KNOW THE TENSE OF THE QUESTION ANYMORE AND I WROTE IT. DOES THAT HAPPEN? WELL IT SHOULDN’T—
What is there to do locally? OR MAYBE ACTUALLY IT SHOULD. LIKE I PREVIOUSLY DISCUSSED, I DON’T ACTUALLY— I CAN’T ACTUALLY REMEMBER THE TENSE OF THE—
Alright, how much are they asking? WELL IF THOSE THINGS ARE OR ARE NOT HAPPENING TO YOU AT WHATEVER AMOUNT YOU CONSIDER NEGATIVE TO YOUR NEEDS – EITHER NOT ENOUGH OR TOO MUCH – THEN THE SOLUTION IS HERE: THE DESK—BED™ ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION, THAT MAKES YOUR EMPLOYEES SLEEP IN WHAT IS BASICALLY AN OFFICE ROOM, ONLY IT HAS A FOLD DOWN BED IN IT, ALL FOR THE LOW LOW PRICE OF alright I’ll stop the caps now: £1,100 pcm. 

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First: the cursed caveat. Daddy’s Cursed Little Caveat. This isn’t the worst space we’ve ever seen here, but.

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I think we should all confront the renewed reality that work and home have blurred together this year. You know that the pandemic has done this: crushed the commute and the lunch hour and work into the same room in your house that you watch TV and eat soup in, and now you can’t escape yourself – everywhere you turn, you are there! You were in this room eight hours ago and you are in it again now! – and though it has its positives (when was the last time you showered before 9AM? Can you imagine how hard it will be going back to showers at 7.30AM?) and negatives (everyone who thought meetings were important before thinks meetings are doubly important now they don’t have to tap on the glass of a conference space and mouth “WE HAVE THIS ROOM!” through the doors, meaning you now, perversely, have more meetings, from your bedroom, than you ever had before, in your office), there is this feeling that this is the future, somehow, or a taste of it at least, and every boss who has pulled a face about you leaving 45 minutes early for a dentist appointment or turned down a perfectly normal request for you to work one day a week from home (“I literally work better when I am not being distracted by that cunt at the coffee machine, that cunt who controls the stereo and that cunt who keeps the heating in this room at five degrees above the temperature of my own body” has always, for some reason, been trumped by the dull dumb logic of “yeah, but we really like to have people in”) now has to admit that yes, all you really need to get your job done (often better than you were doing it before) was a semi-sturdy internet connection, a quiet room, some comfortable jogging bottoms that no one has to see, a slowly purring Slack room and access to your email.

Work and life have crumpled into each other like an awful maroon car crash this year, and though moments of it have been horror, and moments of it have been tedium, there is space for us to build a new world of work in the ashes of the old. We can work from home. We can build homes that can be worked in. We can extend the rigid lines of the old cities. We can reprocess high speed railway money now that commuting is a lie. We can reshape society, and we can improve it.*

That said, I do personally feel this space takes the concept of “combining work and leisure” a bit far, seeing as it is, simply, an office with a bed in it, instead of a bedroom with an office in it. What makes it an office with a bed, instead of a bedroom with a desk? Experts would argue “the floor”, which is made up of those huge featureless floor tiles that only seem to exist in co-working spaces, or the 360° windows with top-to-bottom blinds and gunmetal window frames, something you only find in commercial properties within Zone 2, or the kitchen, which is only designed for one kind of kitchen interaction (making strained smalltalk with someone about their weekend while waiting for the kettle to boil), rather than the other (spending a luxurious evening drinking two glasses of wine and making a lasagne), or the fact that the bed (fold-down, over the sofa) is more of an afterthought than a feature.

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But more than that, I’d simply point to “the vibe”, hanging heavy in the air here. This is not a room where you kick off your slippers and watch Bake Off. This is not a room where you light a scented candle and spend two hours of your evening lazily shopping online for rugs. This is a room that you receive frantically urgent office-alls in. This is a room where every phone call you get is patched through to you first by a receptionist who still, after two years here, refuses to learn your name. This is a room where there’s always some weird pale guy from the second floor who no one knows the name of eating un-toasted bread and peanut butter while standing up. This is not a home. This is not a home-office, either. This is, simply, an office. You may sleep in it if you absolutely have to. 

But then maybe this is the future coronavirus is shaping for us: instead of homes we can do work in, and homes we can leave to go to offices from, we combine all three in the worst way possible: dreadful, soul-killing office spaces with the accoutrements of sleep. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild the idea of work and labour from the ground up, finally addressing the malignant concept of presenteeism, and meeting rooms, and 9 to 5, and eating lunch at our desk. We finally, finally have an opportunity to rebuild the way we work around the work we do, rather than arcane rules about what work is. And, I’m sad to say, this is going to be the solution decided for us by the people who clawed their way into management positions a half-generation before us, isn’t it? Don’t recoil too much at the Desk–Bed™. You’ll be sitting and sleeping in one within five years. 

@joelgolby

  • Won’t fucking happen, obviously. The second everyone in the country is vaccinated, it’ll be, “Right, back to work, Pret has a new sandwich that needs buying,” and all those pathetic little office things that never mattered before and matter even less now will come back – boss pulling you over for a “quiet word” because you came in eight minutes late today despite staring at your work email for one hour straight on the train; yet another self-assessment of your own working year (“I think I have worked at a: mediocre level”), the five-minute meeting, the shaken head, the afraid-the-budget-doesn’t-stretch for us to track your salary with inflation, but next Friday the CEO will make a meandering 45-minute speech that does fuck all beyond praising the sales team, and then you all get pizza, so there’s that – and there it is, again, the trudge, the routine, the pulling all your spandex on in a toilet cubicle before cycling home in the spitting rain, the flop on the sofa at 7pPM, knowing you can’t get comfortable because you still have to make dinner, and once that’s done and the kitchen’s cleaned you realistically have, what, one, one-and-a-half hours of leisure time left of your day?

And, again, realistically you’re too mentally frazzled to “watch a film”, because it’s “a bit much today”, so, yet again, you watch yourself watching two episodes of The Office (American) on the sofa and one episode of The Office (American) on the laptop in bed, and then you fall asleep and do it again, over and over and over, until the weekend, where two weeks ago you made plans to “meet up with a friend” on “Saturday” because “it’s been so long”, but actually you wake up at 10AM with that golden weekend sunlight shining through your curtains and you stretch so far you feel your back clunk–clunk–click and you realise, god, you really can’t face it today, you really can’t face leaving the house, and you text, “So sorry!” and “been a mad week!” and “next time though! I’ll make it up to you! maybe come over for dinner?”, which won’t happen, and then you basically do nothing all day in your pyjamas and do a medium-sized shop at Tesco later and have an oven pizza for dinner, and that’s it. That’s your week. That’s your reality.

We slipped back into the groove again. Nothing ever changes. Anyway, that's what will happen—