Ready for the workplace? What awaits in the new way to office?
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
My New Office by Duane L Herrmann
My office is on my lap, with papers all around, a sea of papers, with waves – stacks of papers, and books. But my office is on my lap, when I am working anyway. When I’m not actually working, it is beside my chair on a plant stand that, never while I’ve owned it, has held a plant. I have other plant stands too, with never a plant. One holds a lamp, beside/behind my chair, to illuminate my lap, especially at night. This is my new home office. My lap has a top, with a screen – my laptop.
Charli Loses the (Garden) Plot by Doug Jacquier
‘How do you like my new aurafice?’
‘Orifice! You mean you have a new hole?’
‘No, it’s a hybrid between an office and an aura. It fills holes. Including black ones.’
‘How does it work?’
‘It projects an aura into a hole and voila! Hole filled. I call it an Appleication to create new office Windows.’
‘So what’s that spinning toy for?’
‘It’s a desk top.’
‘And that cabinet with the STOP sign?’
‘That’s my stationary cupboard.’
‘And the dog next sitting next to your computer?’
‘That’s my Mause’.
‘Time for a cuppa, or something much stronger, I think.’
New Way to Office by FloridaBorne
He looks out the window, contentment wrapped in fur, as I work on a report. The moment I’m intent on the wording of a particular sentence, he’s up.
I now have a cat covering half of a 32 inch monitor. I lift my hand to pet him and he swats it away with a soft paw.
The message is clear: No claws, “I want a treat,” claws out, “I don’t want to be petted.”
The treat is given several feet away from my computer screen, and I stroke his softness.
I look at the sentence with a fresh perspective.
Mojo by Reena Saxena
Simon is the best pet-trainer in town…
I scroll down to read the story further, as Mojo nibbles at my toes.
Simon lost a lucrative corporate job during the pandemic. He started moonlighting as a pet trainer.
He knows the requirements of a virtual office at home. Pets are trained to remain silent when a Zoom meeting is on, and not to pounce on a parent’s hands working on a laptop in a quest for attention.
They are trained to develop tolerance for the ‘humans’ lounging around home all week.
“Mojo, you have a new teacher…”
Writer in Residence by Norah Colvin
The large old oak writer’s desk with multiple drawers, pigeon holes, an ink well and leather writing mat faced the room.
Upon it, a multitude of cups stocked with pencils, pens and other writing and drawing tools sat ready. The pigeon holes held a magnificence of paper and cardboard, and the drawers essentials like scissors, glue, rulers, lettering guides, clips and stapler. It was a writer’s paradise — perfect for the daily Writer in Residence.
The children loved it. Especially when they were Writer for the day with freedom to organise, reorganise and create to their heart’s content — growing writers.
Emptied by D. Avery
She emptied every drawer before removing them, cleared the desk surface, removing the stacks of paper, the pens, paperclips and knickknacks and the desktop pendulum. Now she could manage to push the desk to the door. Flipped onto its back she shoved it through the door and down the steps. A couple more flips placed it in the yard. Three trips for each drawer, another for the chair; while retrieving the pendulum she noticed the book of matches amongst the desk detritus. Seated again at her desk, the pendulum balls pulsed a steely beat amidst the shrieking fire alarms.
Office with a View by Carole Warren
Past are the decades of commuting through the desert sandbox feeling stuck with a linear view of office work.
Transformation from corner office, to home office, to mobile office now provides a 360-degree perspective changing weekly.
Our work desk for two, morphs for dining, for games, even a small bed for visiting grandkids.
The window perpendicular to our desk mimics a digital photo frame, revealing variegated greens of old growth forests, colorful flora, or other unique vistas of each coastal campsite.
Recorded relaxation sounds have been replaced with live sounds of ocean breezes and crashing waves.
Dream made real.
Push The Button by Hugh W. Roberts
Stella’s new office wasn’t all it was supposed to be – until she pushed the button.
Sitting on a cloud surrounded by harp-playing cherubs wasn’t quite the ‘new way to office’ Stella was expecting.
“Don’t push any of those extra buttons on your desk until I get back,” said her unique boss. “I’m off to get my beard trimmed.”
All but one button was marked. ‘Coronavirus, Heatwave, Flash-flooding.’ But what would the unmarked button do if pushed?
Not resisting temptation, Stella started slowly descending after pushing the unnamed button.
“Welcome back to your old office,” cackled a horned figure beset by fire. “The “Master said you wouldn’t last long working in those new office surroundings.”
Office Downgrade Promotion: Politics by Deborah Bennett
Really felt my colleagues’ eyes were ALL-OVER-ME when sitting at my desk yesterday. Ya’know those open plan desk arrangements – no cubical walls to hide eh?
Everyone was staring, ‘cos of that “ding” sound with emails saying your promoted, or you hit some target. ‘Guess I’ll be scrolling through lovely opinionated comments from the public..woohoo.
At uni, I didn’t do three “all-nighters” for assignment deadlines – didn’t blinking slave over National Party Policy files for five flipping years, sell my pride and joy – Honda Sport XP1 for a wardrobe of suits and comfy heels to become – Social Media ASSISTANT Minister!
Just 12 Tables by Michael Fishman
The restaurant couldn’t survive the COVID lockdown. I worked in the back of the house as a prep cook. One year out of school with a culinary arts degree and dreams of working hard and one day opening a small place of my own.
Just 12 tables, that’s my dream.
I start my day now by hitting the library to use one of the public computers. I check my LinkedIn. Then I walk over to the House of Charity where I volunteer cooking meals.
With thanks that I’m one of the lucky ones, I say a prayer for tomorrow.
Home Office Attire by Nicole Horlings
Mira caressed the blue lace that formed the straps of the skater dress, and smiled at the way that it complimented the shimmery polish that she had on her fingernails. The dress had been stowed in the back of her closet, hanging limply, since she never could have worn it to the office. The hollow pit in her stomach from recent events that had transpired was assuaged by that fact that she, while working from home, got to make her own rules. With a flourish she donned the beautiful dress and meandered over to the mirror to admire herself.
Back to the Office by Jenne Gray
The office hasn’t really changed.
My chair sits in front of the desk and the computer, waiting for me.
Has it really been eighteen months?
I switch on, sit down.
Somehow the chair’s too small, the desk too low.
My fingers are too big for the keyboard.
I look at the screen – and it winks at me!
No, seriously, it does!
The chair swivels me round to look out at the world outside.
And then back to the computer.
I see giant letters appear one by one:
Followed by an exclamation mark!
Who am I to argue?
Spelling Independence by JulesPaige
T’was without any dalliance, after he was undressed (dressed down) by the staff for his ‘filthy’ endurance. He knew they were just fishing. They had jealous dry green stone hearts. He could give them no advice, they wouldn’t listen. He knew he had to work for his pay. He couldn’t just sit around looking ‘hip’. He was like a windup toy, ready to release his spring – as he left the office, knowing he wasn’t returning to ‘that’ job. A better office awaited the energy he could and would give.
Jack jumped ‘cross the road
Growing Pains by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Mom, Bobbi and I split up. I’m coming home to get my head together,” Toni’s voice crackled over the phone. “She kicked me out. Good thing I never signed the lease.”
Joy rubbed her forehead. She’d be more open to her daughter’s return if it weren’t the third time in as many years. “Your room is now my office. Your bed’s gone, hon’.”
“Where else am I supposed to go? Please, Mom!”
“Doesn’t your dad have a spare room?”
“He’d make me pay rent. You never do!”
“I am now, Toni. I can’t keep both you and my job.”
The Respected Counselor by Sue Spitulnik
Michael rolled into the No Thanks, went straight to Mac, and said, “I heard Dr. John is going to open an antique shop next door. That true?”
“I didn’t know he was an antique guy.”
“When he asked to rent the building he said he wasn’t, but his wife is. He’s retiring from the VA but wants to stay available. They plan to turn the big back room into a kitchen so folks can drop in for a cup of coffee and a chat. A new way to office, he called it.”
Michael nodded approval. “Sounds like him.”
Office Romance by C. E. Ayr
Please, sweetheart, I say, I really need to finish this.
Susie doesn’t respond, she just stares sullenly.
If I don’t get this done, we don’t eat, I say, bashing keys.
I wave a vague arm. How do you think we can afford all this, I ask.
She doesn’t reply.
I really hate it when you give me the silent treatment, I say.
If I don’t do it now I’ll have to work the weekend, I say, and that kills our quality time together.
Her eyes speak volumes.
Oh, okay, I say, getting up, let’s go.
Her tail wags.
New Beginnings by Colleen M. Chesebro
“Hello, Judith? Gather the others and meet me out back in half an hour.”
Macy hung up her phone. Productivity at fairy headquarters had slowed during the human pandemic. When the humans quit believing in magic, the fabric of fairy reality faded. The fey hid in the otherworld, waiting. Today, Macy aimed to fix the problem.
The fey folk assembled in the meadow, their new home office. They joined hands and danced. Macy said the magic words:
fairy dance rhythms drift
sacred smoke linger—cleansing
belief in magic
fiery memory’s return
summer solstice fires burn
Slowly the veil lifted…
Her Own Office by Charli Mills
Moonflower Johnson’s preferred people call her “June.” Applications forced her to disclose her full name and job interviewers raised an eyebrow or coughed to cover surprise. She watched them squirm with a need to ask. She never offered an answer. June preferred to office outside where she had homeschooled her five children and tended to the miking goats. After 30 years beyond her career, she longed to office remotely, back home, outside. But motherhood was not considered experience for the office. Her degree had gone dormant. She decided to create her own office. Outside. And used her degree differently.
Domestic Setting by JulesPaige
Pandemonium working from home? A prelude to what it will be like while he’s here all the time without any specific investment. First he was in the lower half. Until winter moved him up to a warmer climate and to a square folding table which he heaped with his office debris in the living room. When he could no longer dodge that ‘mess’ he took over half of my territory on the dining room table. When he does retire will I have to relocate my office space for privacy?
good thing I
like his face, imp grin
Zooming by Eliza Mimski
She’d preferred teaching on Zoom. Her kitchen table office. Washing dirty dishes during her break. Taking out the garbage and recycling bins. Customer service calls from her couch during her half-hour lunch. Now, back at school, loud children’s voices and no mute button, no way to turn the camera off if she needed to disappear. The noisy classroom, walking the kids up and down the stairs for morning recess, lunch, afternoon recess, the line after school. Once home, she dragged the garbage and recycling curbside. Exhausted, she entered her home to find the dishes right where she’d left them.
Being ‘Normal’ by Padmini Krishnan
My body shivers as I get off the train to look at the strange spectacle of human faces from the corner of my eyes. Unmasked and fearful of making eye contact, some people seem to rush down the streets while others keep close to the walls, their heads down. Assailed by sunlight, I walk in circles, wondering if I should cross the street to my office. I breathe with relief as I notice the essentials of life outside my office. Masked and relaxed, my eyes crinkle into a smile at my teammate as I walk confidently to my seat.
A Complainer Talk by Simon Prathap D
Hey neighbour, office?
Back to office!
How is the new normal?
What new normal? we work the same way as we always do, and these corporates least bothered about us.
The company is doing their best, don’t be always negative.
Best? like asking employees to go out on field during lockdown?
That’s not fair, but they should be more careful at the office premises.
Like how? Sit together, conduct group meetings?
They still check temperature and pulses?
To figure out corona? when its already spread?
Change the company!
Now that’s a good idea, are you recruiting?
I’m leaving now!
Off-Ice; On-Ice by Bill Engleson
When you start to parse “office”, you enter a series of damaged doors, ideological ideas about where many people spend their days.
Office is not exactly a comfortable word. Slightly off, you might say.
Off and Ice.
A cold place.
A place of ‘business’.
A slightly off-place of cold business.
Derived from ‘officium’.
A hard-working Greek, he was.
Officious, I mean.
Coined the term, ‘officium’.
Or so I once heard at a water cooler.
Likely a go-getting business tax collector.
Absolutely no mention of Onice.
Not On Ice.
High Rise by D. Avery
The little kitchen table was still flanked by three mismatched chairs. ‘For Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear’ he used to say. He imagined his daughter, all grown up now, sitting in a fancy leather swivel chair in a high-rise office building overlooking the city. Or he imagined she might even be in a director’s chair in one of the studios— more likely, creative as she was. He made trips to the city. He couldn’t imagine her hunkered on a sidewalk. But he looked. And worried that after all these years he wouldn’t even recognize his Baby Bear.
Mad to Work Here? by Anne Goodwin
When she first saw the poster, Janice cringed. Sure, it wasn’t as corny as the one in the secretary’s office: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE MAD TO WORK HERE, BUT IT HELPS! But shouldn’t social workers be above laughing at Alice and the grinning Cheshire cat?
As the institution tentacled around her, the poster – with coffee, kettle and cups shelved below it – became a shrine. Humour an island of calm amid the chaos that infected staff and patients alike. Carroll’s cat wiser than any psychiatric textbook, decrying Us and Them divisions. I’M MAD. YOU’RE MAD. WE’RE ALL MAD HERE.
The New Arrangement by Joanne Fisher
“I know there’s whining about the new office arrangement, but you’ll get used to it.” said Brian looking at his computer screen.
“You didn’t think this was too extreme?”
“No. During the last pandemic you all got used to working at home, but I was never sure how much work you were actually doing. We couldn’t go back to before, so I thought this solution practical.”
“You mean having our consciousnesses uploaded to the office hub?”
“Now I have complete control over all of you while you work seven days a week non-stop. We should have done this earlier.”
The New Classroom by Donna Matthews
“Grandma,” whispers my youngest grandson sitting on my lap as we watch the sun settle for the night.
“Tell me again the story of the pandemic.”
“Oh honey, really? Again?”
How can I say no? It’s his history. “Well, I was your age – 2nd grade.”
“Oh yeah, school! Y’all went to a building with other kids?”
“And learned letters and numbers?”
“Not the things we learned today? Which plants and berries are okay to eat?”
“That’s right – learning changed once your great-grandma moved us up here. Now shush and listen to the story…”
Galactic Wheeler by Saifun Hassam
Lt. Lizzie Andromeda stepped into her new office. A cabin aboard the immense Jupiter spaceship “Galactic Wheeler.” What a dramatic change from the Venusian and Lunar space transporters, and the even older space yachts with their skylights and captain’s deck windows!
This would be an entirely new experience for Lizzie, an astronomer, expertise in archeology and derelict spacecraft.
The cabin was on the Wheeler’s Western Spoke. An observation post.
Lizzie programmed the AI to create holograms of the Solar System. Wall panels glittered with constellations of the Milky Way. Earth rising, where she had never been. Her ancestral home.
Just One by Rebecca Glaessner
Career day, they’d say.
Detaching from the cerebral collective, I scour the repository, wanting to remember on my own.
It’s been many a century, but I’ll make change there. They’ve all held strong to their core designs, I’m sure.
“Ah! Found it,” I cease searching.
“This is your ultimate decision?” Great Mind asks.
“My only consideration.”
The air ripples and distorts before me.
“Your pathway is stabilised.”
I step forward, losing myself while Great Mind transports me to form anew on the other side.
I breathe deep the Earthen air.
It’s good to be back.
Time for work.
Remotely Workin’ (Part I) by D. Avery
“Hey there Shorty.”
“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”
“They’s a bunch a office work ta git done at the Saloon.”
“So Kid’s at the Saloon?”
“Then where is Kid?”
“Past the back forty, in the high meadow. Sent Kid off ta work remotely, ‘cause lately what Kid’s been up to don’t even remotely look like work.”
“But Kid cain’t do office work way off up there. How’s that gonna help?”
“I’m listenin’ Pal.”
“No, listen. Ya hear thet?”
“I don’t hear anythin’.”
“Zactly. No yammerin’, no whinin’…”
“Where ya goin’?”
“Saloon office. Now I kin work.”
Remotely Workin’ (Part II) by D. Avery
“Hey there Shorty.”
“Good day at the office. Sure kin git lot’s done without Kid pesterin’ me an gittin’ in the way. Thet paperwork’s all organized an’ stacked there on the desk.
“Pal! Here ya are!”
“Kid, whut’re ya doin’ back so soon?”
“’Member them kid goats I sent off in Logan an’ Morgan’s rental car? Well they musta let ‘em go. I jist rounded ‘em up an’ brought ‘em back.”
“Kid, d’ya ‘member why ya them goats was on the run?”
“They was ettin’ manuscripts an’ submissions.”
“Oh. Yeah. Uh, Pal, was that pile a papers there a manuscript?”