In less than a week, everything went remote. The world is staying home, opening their laptops and, thanks to the horror of video conferencing, we now have a window onto colleagues’ homes, which can be fascinating. Some had no time to tidy, plan, much less style the backdrop to these collective calls. One consultant relates how her boss decided to have a virtual board meeting on the second day of working remotely. “He gave us ten minutes’ notice. I spent nine trying to connect to the internet and one trying to tidy the bookshelf behind me. Only when I finished the meeting did I realise I was still in my pyjamas.”
Not everyone goes for a bookcase backdrop – are yours colour-coded or horizontally styled? The show-offs have gone for a garden view, while the kitchen table approach can be risky. Have you done the washing up? Are the right condiments on display? It’s no time to make character judgements, but impossible not to. One colleague was aghast at discovering his co-worker and longterm friend is a huge Dan Brown fan and had all of the Twilight books on his shelves. “We can get over coronavirus, but I can never get over that.”
It’s safe to say a neutral backdrop is best – a few books, a vase with some cheerful daffodils and an interesting Farrow & Ball palette. More likely though preserving the sanctity of office is interrupted by the post, delivery men, toddlers and pets photobombing the proceedings.
As for what to wear, former GLOSS Look the Business speaker Dame Helena Morrissey has given some tips for home working and video calls, having learned these the hard way. She admits to having left a groaning ironing board in the background on one occasion. Structured blazers and black anything are no-nos. Recommended are jewel colours, a statement necklace and immaculate hair and make-up.
A spritz of perfume is one way of feeling dressed, even in the most surreal of working environments. Scent lovers will be interested in news that a book lover is out to capture the essence of great works such as Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Haruki Marakami’s Norwegian Wood in a range of appropriate scents. Timothy Han is hoping to suffuse entire books with scent – even creating bespoke smells on the pages for specific scenes. So a bit like an upmarket “scratch and sniff” then?
Dame Joan Collins is spending self-isolation holed up in her Belgravia home, playing Scrabble with husband Percy, with occasional walks to the private communal park. Board games are one way to get the family together but, if solo, download the Scrabble App and users can play with a friend or a stranger. Click start for an empty scrabble board, then drag and drop the tiles on the board to create words. Other old faves online include chess.com and funbridge.com.
News that Stedman Graham, Oprah Winfrey’s longterm partner, is now living in the guest accommodation of her vast LA mansion, raised eyebrows. On Instagram it was stated “after several fights and business travel” Graham decided it best to stay away from Winfrey who is recovering from pneumonia. Guest accommodation, garages, attics, spare rooms and the shed have never been so popular among the male population. As for Oprah – she’s spending isolation quite happily “reading, binge-watching and making pancakes.”
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