Big Tech goes back to the office, and a worker shares her perspective

‘I thought everyone would be itching to come back. But I was wrong.’

By Aimee Rancer

Like most people, I’ve grown comfortable working from home. I’ve found my rhythm and am riding the wave.

But over the last few weeks, I became super restless. Fancying myself an extrovert, I missed my old routines of seeing coworkers, grabbing coffee and just being in a new space. So when Pinterest’s Workplace team emailed employees that our Bay Area offices were reopening at 15 percent capacity, I quite literally jumped at the opportunity to sign up.

Unsurprisingly, I had questions. Would I still need to wear my mask 24/7? Would I be able to go into conference rooms with coworkers? And admittedly: Will we still have lunch?

My first day back felt a bit like doing a study abroad program and returning many months later. While things seemed pretty much the same, I, personally, had changed after enduring such a transformative year.

Upon walking through the doors of my office, a sense of nostalgia came flooding back. Per usual, our security and workplace teams greeted me with smiles and enthusiasm. It was just like the “before times,” but now with the addition of quick check in on our COVID-19 rules.

Inside, it was right where we left off. The giant lego Pin hung in our common space. Our IT team played music and continued to help people across the company with their tech problems (the irony!). It felt oddly comforting being back in the old office, where I used to spend hours with people I saw more than my partner. I even was able to go take calls in my favorite conference room without a struggle—a huge highlight in my book.

I thought people would be itching to go back to the office. But in the days that I’ve gone in, it’s been fairly quiet. I’m noticing a lot of details, both big and small. Like how our desks are farther apart, but also how everyone I come across smiles and says hello. We all realize that seeing each other in this environment is a big deal.

More than ever, I feel especially grateful. Grateful for the people who worked tirelessly to get my office ready for our 15 percent capacity reopening. Grateful for our Pin Cuisine team that’s back in action cooking up delicious lunches. Grateful that slowly, things are emerging into a “new normal.”

Will I go back to the office every day now? Probably not. My team at Pinterest is now considered “hybrid,” which means employees work from the office one to three days a week and from home one to two days a week, depending on how team schedules are configured.

It’s safe to say the pandemic has caused a lot of people to reevaluate their priorities, particularly when it comes to going into the office and their working styles. I recently heard about “The Great Resignation,” a high volume of workers changing careers, quitting jobs and everything in between.

For me, it’s a joy to be back. I love feeling more productive and being surrounded by people (even at a six-foot distance in a smaller capacity). I’m excited to reinvent how and where I work, and embracing the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Aimee Rancer is a creative strategist at Pinterest and lifestyle blogger at The Ohio Transplant. She’s lived in San Francisco for over a decade and can often be found exploring The City by foot with her pitbull, Husky Bolt, and her husband, Tom.

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