Return To Work: What Do You Say When Work From Home Is Over?

For the last few weeks, every headline has some horror story about returning to work. Whether it’s the one about how much of a pay cut someone would be willing to take or the “they’ll just quit” threats, it would be pretty easy to talk most people out of heading back into the office. When I asked on Twitter, you should have seen the comments.

However, a reality check called a lease renewal is coming up, and many companies feel like they should head back in now that the CDC has pulled back the mask mandate for vaccinated people. Collaboration and all that.

What Do You Say? Considerations For Your Return To Work Memo

The clock is ticking. If you still have a lease, I’m confident there are people (read: people who know how much the lease is costing) just dying for everyone to return to work full time. I mean, look at the press. CEOs are making disparaging comments about how remote workers aren’t top performers.

In the middle of all this chaos are HR and communications departments, trying to pull together a statement that makes people feel safe while also letting them know that the standards are changing. What do you say? “Good luck, sucker.”

In all seriousness, the best thing to do first is to prepare for the suck. This may not go smoothly. Education and over-communication are your friends.

In that message, consider including this.

  • Q&A: Add the frequently asked questions from managers. Often those will represent a broad range of people.
  • Approach: Is this phased, or is everyone coming back? What are you doing to make sure people are still safe from variants and for people who are not vaccinated yet?
  • Timeline: You want two weeks’ notice, so do they. Give people plenty of information and grace around returning to the office.
  • Inclusive bonus: people may have transitioned or changed pronouns since the last time in the office. Do you have gender-neutral bathrooms available?

Start with manager training to give them details and insights before you start messaging broadly. Let them be advocates. Also, listen to them and their concerns before you start drafting this mass email. Your in-house advocates will make a big difference.

Most importantly? Listen. The entire world looks different today than it did just two years ago. Prepare to do something different when you return to work.

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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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