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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Kat Kibben View All →

Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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