Countering A ‘Return To The Office’

Dr Stuart Woolley
Published in
7 min readJan 5, 2022


Is your company mandating a return to Victorian operations? Help is at hand!

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

An Introductory Verse

Unfortunately, as you know all too well as a progressive software engineer, many managerial types still remain under the outdated mindset¹ that truly productive and innovative work can only be performed at the company bricks and mortar office.

Even pre-pandemic this view was widely known to be false by the technicals and oft derided on clandestine char channels². It’s often referred to as a ‘bums-on-seats’ attitude to productivity and is propagated endlessly by the controlling, less progressive, and backward looking managerial classes.

Now, however, with the extended mandate of remote working across great swathes of the software world, we (the actually progressive and forward looking workforce of software engineers) have overwhelming demonstrated that we’re happier³, more productive, and generally more amenable when ‘allowed’ choice in where we work.

Yes, we can be amenable. Talk to us, but not about adjusting the font size in your crazy drug-addled presentation or about which HDMI lead to use in your home theatre system!

If you look around the industry right now, at time of writing in January 2022, there is a great movement of software engineers to companies that have embraced either a full remote or partial ‘hybrid’ method of working.

And, equally, there is a great movement away from companies that remain steadfastly stuck in the past and require physical presence at an office.

A (little) bit like how software engineers decided that a dress code was an all round bad idea so upped sticks and moved to more progressive outfits⁴. Pun intended.

If you’re one of those poor unfortunate souls who has returned to the front in the grand game and is now faced with a mail entitled ‘return to work’, ‘company meet up’, or even some HR driven initiative to ‘get people together’ in person then all is not lost. I humbly offer some tips as to how to politely disengage from this reckless return to actually being around people.

1 — Leave



Dr Stuart Woolley
Editor for

Worries about the future. Way too involved with software. Likes coffee, maths, and . Would prefer to be in academia. SpaceX, Twitter, and Overwatch fan.