Pippa, Thrust’s Vibe-master: Jason? Is that you? It’s hard to tell with your Keep Thrustin’ mask on, but I would recognise that upper torso anywhere!

Jason, the sponsor-me guy: Good morning, Pippa. You did mention that I could warm down in your office whenever I wanted. With the locker rooms closed and the lights, water and aircon off on Underfloors 3 to 5, there aren’t many options.

Pippa: Of course! Come in, come in! Oops — a little more distancing, I think. You are perspiring a lot. Would you like a wipe? Just take the whole box. 

Jason: Thanks. Just clocking up a 5K before the markets open. With the London Marathon knocked off my agenda, and DadBod 2021 pushed back to 2023, it’s been hard to keep up the fitness regime. Sponsorship is off the charts, though. Did I mention that Annabella’s now raising money to cover the legal fees of polo players who were accidentally caught up in that unpleasantness about illegal chukkas? I’ll Slack you the JustGiving link later.

Anyway, I’ve managed to keep the whole Grumble Cavil & Grouse team on course. Luckily, I linked their wearable dongles to the central fitness dashboard before lockdown. I’ve got a few slackers who’d rather lie face down in the biscuit tin, but we shipped the treadmill desks out to them last week so their vitals should improve exponentially from now. 

Pippa: That is great news, Jason. You know it’s Priority Numero Uno in Pippa-land to balance wellness and productivity. I’ve been trying to run the Thrust community like one huge, happy, socially bubbled family — without the hugs, unfortunately — and in my book, earnings and endorphins are equally important. But was there something else?

Jason: You don’t mind if I put my leg up on your desk, do you? Keeps the hamstrings loose. I did have another issue, yes: it’s floor 45. With nobody in except me and the cleaners, the ambience is deteriorating fast. I’m having to do circuits of the open plan area just to keep the lights from automatically dimming. I stayed late to join a conference call with San Fran — Annabella prefers if I come home after she’s asleep — and people in overalls were removing the monitors and desks. A whole section’s been cordoned off and there’s only one lift running. It makes for a gloomy videocall backdrop, which, as you know, is key to Grumble’s virtual brand image.

Pippa: I see. No vibe on 45. That’s sad to hear, Jason. Things might change a bit while we’re in flux.

Jason: Well, we’re all adapting Pippa!

Pippa: Yes, some of these changes might be more long term. I can’t say too much at the moment.

Jason: Hopefully not too much. I filled the employee survey in and was quite explicit that my preference — which I hope goes for my team, too — is to work five days a week in the office. So impossible to keep on top of everyone while they’re “working at home”.

It’s the water-cooler chats I miss. Not that I really had time for any of those — too busy, nose to the grindstone. But it’s always good to see a friendly face — don’t really get that at home. I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here, Pippa. The cleaners don’t seem to want to talk to me — you’re really the only colleague I see now that my team is remote.

Pippa: I feel the same, Jason.

Jason: I’d be here all week if it was possible. Is it possible?

Pippa: You are funny.

Jason: I’ll take that as a no.

Pippa: Can’t have too much of a good thing, Jason! Which as it turns out was the conclusion of the employee engagement survey — most people want to spend more time at home, not the office.

Some interesting findings though, like when asked if Thrust was a creature which one would it be, most people went for turkey. I thought they’d go for a sleek and nimble leopard! Definitely worth paying out for those consultants’ blue-sky survey thinking!

Anyway, it’s got me thinking, Jason. Can I ask for a favour?

Jason: Anything! A distanced almost-hug? Do you want me to nip to the shop to buy some hand sanitiser?

Pippa: Would you look at my CV?

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