Dear Employees: Welcome! It’s time to come back to the office!

Employers, we know these “uncertain times” are about to become even more rocky as you ask your employees to return to working in the office, even if in a hybrid model. You’ve probably been talking about it for a while now. Maybe return-to-office dates were announced at one point… then pushed back… then pushed back again, and then just disappeared quietly into the night.

But now you’re ready to move forward, and a date for returning to the office has been declared. You know it’s best for the company and the employees. But let’s be honest… You’re scared shi*less to send out the official internal communication.

Will your inbox and office doorway be flooded with angry people, threats of quitting, and endless questions? Is HR prepared for a tidal wave of FMLA inquiries and doctor notes? Have you consulted with your legal counsel to determine if your remote work policy follows current laws?

The answer to most of these questions is (and should be) ‘yes.’ To help make your announcement clear and respectful (without having to bribe them with charitable contributions or free lunches), we’ve consulted with our own Strategic Human Resources practice director, Jennifer Pikoos. With over 20 years of HR leadership experience, including helping companies through the pandemic and return to office conversations, here is what she recommends.

Near or far, we are still a team…

Some of your employees haven’t seen each other in months, while others have never even met! But you did the work to keep your teams together as your organization navigated the ever-changing terrain. Emphasize that team spirit and camaraderie and remind them of the core values and mission you’ve worked hard to preserve.

To the ACME Team,

If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that the business is always evolving.

Over the past few years, we have seen ACME continue to thrive and stay true to our core values and mission. (Insert mission statement/core values) I’m proud of the way we’ve worked together to continue ACME’s success and keep our team safe and successful, as well.

We couldn’t have done it without you… or us

An organization is only as good as its people, and your people deserve to be acknowledged. They weathered the storm and didn’t jump ship when things got rocky. However, don’t forget what you did as captain of that ship! There was no map for this journey, but you kept everyone afloat and safe!

With your support as we quickly transformed our working environment first to a fully remote structure due to the pandemic and then to a flexible hybrid structure that supported the needs of our team members in transitioning to a more normalized professional and personal life balance.

Look what we’ve accomplished together…

You’ve done more than survive; you’ve thrived as an organization. Depending on the size of your organization, however, some might not be aware of the innovative ways you’ve helped the company grow… including changing directions overnight! Now that the waters have begun to settle, you are ready to get things back on course to continue the success of the organization and its people.

We are one of the fortunate ones who have continued to grow and thrive during this time by adding new roles and people, creating new and innovative ways to meet goals, and expanding our offerings & services. Now, we are ready to establish a work environment that supports personal connection, collaboration, and consistency, balanced with an appropriate level of flexibility.

Onward and upward…

It’s time to share your return-to-work plan IF it has been approved by leadership, HR, and your internal/external legal counsel. You want to avoid ambiguity, new policies that conflict with existing policies, and any unintentional discrimination issues. Be sure your policy provides detailed governance such as relocation, chain of command, expenses, and eligibility. Specificity is the name of the game.

Effective October 1, 2023, for those team members working out of the corporate office, the go-forward workdays in the office each week will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at a minimum. You are welcome to work in the office the other days as well, but it is not required (unless you are asked to come to the office in advance for a specific purpose.)

But what about…

If you’re expecting your return-to-work policy to fit every scenario in your organization, brace yourself for disappointment. If employees are in a non-centralized geographical location, there are things you need to consider before making your announcement: Are they expected to travel regularly for in-person meetings? Who pays for that? Will there be an overnight stay for employees beyond a certain distance? Who pays for that? Are there any exceptions? Again, check with internal/external legal counsel to ensure your policies are above board.

And don’t forget…

Don’t forget remote workers who will not be attending in-person meetings. Some may have medical or personal reasons that are protected by law. If you have some employees who will not appear in person at all, it is even more important your remote work policy provides specific governance. Some issues to consider include eligibility, relocation policies, expectation of office-set up, what the company will and will not pay for, and responsibilities and expectations for employer and manager.

For team members that work in other locations around the country, including remotely from the home, to the extent possible, please ensure you are meeting in person with team members in your region on a regular basis at an established co-working facility that will be supported by the company.

You’re more than a number to us…

Even your most organized employees will need time to make adjustments to return to the office. Make the transition as easy as possible! Set an adequate transition period during which you are available for support and to answer questions. If possible, be proactive and provide resources that include childcare in the area and tips on how to transition back to in-office employment. Even better, find discount codes for online grocery shopping or other tasks they may have to automate once they return to the office. Acknowledge the impact on their lives but remain steadfast in your plan.

We appreciate that some of you may have people you care for or other commitments that you will need to adjust for, so we have provided this extended transition period over the next 6 weeks to help as needed in this adjustment.

Return to work policy



Return to Work