After all this time. By my partner’s count, 452 days. Of setting the default switch for working at Well Done to “work from home.” We don’t expect you in the office. We don’t want you in the office. Mute your mic when you’re not talking so we can’t hear the dog/kids/birds/construction noise/traffic/ear-splitting feedback. See you…

When? In the future. At a future date. A month, we thought at first. Maybe a couple. Probably June. Definitely not until later summer. At earliest. Only if you want to. Or—strike that. See you in 2021. We’re pretty sure. We hope.

452 days. Of working as hard as we’ve ever worked. Harder. To stay connected while we’re apart. To help our clients save lives. Protect the state and the city. Get out the vote. Help people cope.

To cover for a guy who had COVID-19 and missed a couple of months of work. (That would be me.)

And after all this time—452 days—to flip the default switch to “see you at the office.” To work at Well Done. Right here in Fountain Square. In one place big enough for all of us.

I don’t have to tell you it’s been weird. Is still a little weird. To collaborate in person with people you’ve worked with exclusively on Slack. To meet six people in a conference room and close the door. To get all of us—nearly 30 of us—congregated around our big central table. With our masks off. (In line with Marion County Public Health Department guidelines.)

To share coffee from the same pot, kombucha from the same tap.

To walk over to someone’s desk and ask a question. Just like that. No dinging or buzzing or appointment required.

To just leave the house and go somewhere, every day.

But as weird as it was, it was twice as amazing. We shared Melissa Sunsdahl’s justly famous (individually packaged) cinnamon rolls and Rachel Leininger’s ridiculous (individually packaged) Key lime pies. We snacked on Pullen’s Popcorn Plus and brought home wine from Daniel’s Family Vineyard and Winery. We kept keeping it local with gift cards from Wildwood Market and Bovaconti Coffee.

We hugged. We saw people we hadn’t seen IRL in over a year. We greeted new staffers we’d only ever met on Zoom.

We said goodbye to a long-time staffer, off to save the world in a different way, and toasted his legacy and his success.

We talked about recipes and movies and books and politics. In person. We worked together. In the same room. Without masks. Sipping coffee and kombucha.

It was terrifying. And glorious.

And eventually, it will be normal.

As normal as an agency can be. Which is…not that normal.

Coming back to the office after 452 days was a reminder of what we lost, what we missed, what we feared, what we wanted back. Coming back was a reminder of what we overlooked, took for granted, misunderstood.

Coming back was a reminder of everything we can do together. Of the fact that we can be productive apart, but we’re better, strategically and creatively, when we have actual human contact. Of the potential of a focused, motivated team, working in concert if not always in harmony, to accomplish great things.

We’re back. We’re here. We missed you. We can’t wait to see you. Meet us next door after work. Margaritas or wine slushies on us.