The year is 2045. It’s well over twenty years since the Covid 19 pandemic created chaos and fear throughout the world. But just like the ‘baby boomer’ generation who were born, celebrated and cherished in the wake of World War II, so the ‘quarantinis’ are starting to make their way in the world of work. In contrast to baby boomers’ desire to throw off the societal shackles which paved the way for the swinging 60s, the quarantinis are much more reserved in their expectations, especially when their every move can be tracked and traced and their every conversation saved on surveillance software.
Quarantinis make up a large group of the population, many of them unexpected arrivals but all of them told how special they were. They roll their eyes at their parents’ endless tales of offices’ sudden shutdown, about how they couldn’t get a haircut and the demise of something called ‘the pub’.
They were raised in the suburbs or in rural locations where their parents escaped to during the pandemic to live with their parents. Multi-generational households are the norm now as no one wants their grandparents to live in a care home. They tend to still live at home (it’s cheaper especially when taxes are so high and they still feel most relaxed with their families than anyone else). If they do commute, it’s only two or three days per week and at staggered times. What does 9-5 even mean Mum and Dad? They’ve inherited a fear of large crowds and confined spaces from their parents. A lot of them don’t see the need to work ‘in town’ at all as their local high street is full of flexible workspaces where the shops used to be.
Some of the bolder quarantinis have reclaimed the inner cities, which emptied out during the pandemic. They’ve capitalised on all those luxury apartments which have lain empty for years and that can now be rented extremely cheaply. They insist on being able to walk to work though. They’ve inherited a love of walking from their parents who regularly tell them tales of how they were limited to just one hour’s exercise a day at the height of lockdown.
Once they reach the office, everything is controlled by their smart devices or, more commonly, microchip implants. While their grandparents regale in horror and talk about civil liberties, quarantinis have no such qualms about the technology. ’The authorities already know so much about us anyway’ they say. And at least this way there’s no losing their security pass or key fob (whatever they are!). The offices are large and spacious with plenty of room to move around (in one direction naturally).
Much to their grandparents’ derision, the cubicle has made a comeback. It makes quarantinis feel safe. They like having their own space and being able to keep it spotless, according to their high standards of cleanliness. The two-metre rule is ingrained in them and their movement sensors tell them when someone gets too close without warning. Tea and coffee points are a thing of the past – a highly sophisticated robot delivers food and drink to your desk on demand these days. Washrooms are now the social hub with employers competing to offer an ever more sophisticated range of soap, sanitiser and even lasers.
Spaces in meeting rooms are strictly limited with microphones and sophisticated AV in place to make sure everyone can hear each other at a distance. Video calls have come a long way and sometimes it’s hard to tell the human CGI from the real thing. Quarantinis also crave control which is why they’re obsessed with checking and changing the lighting, temperature and air quality in their particular part of the office.
Access to green space is particularly important to quarantinis – one of their earliest memories is spending endless days in the park or hanging out in their grandparents gardens for BBQs. After work they like nothing better than a slice of banana bread and a chat with (no more than six) colleagues on a roof terrace or landscaped area – at a socially acceptable distance of course.