How to approach getting people back in to the office

Article – 17h April 2024

In the wake of unprecedented challenges, the landscape of work has undergone a profound transformation. As businesses navigating the complexities of the post-pandemic world, the question of returning to the office looms large.

Considering the complexity of this matter, we’ve crafted a resource comprising a letter from the leadership team to their employees. This letter is designed to clarify the reasoning behind the wish for employees to return to the office, while also emphasising the adjustments required to facilitate this transition smoothly.

We trust that the letter provided below will prompt you to contemplate your communication strategy and the adjustments necessary to optimise success. It aims to provide insights that will not only encourage employees to return to the office, but also make them genuinely eager to do so.

Open letter

Dear team, 

It seems like forever since we were all together under one roof. COVID seems to have stretched time in so many ways.

We’ve floated the idea of us all getting back into the office for at least part of the week, and we know many of you are reluctant to return if all we do is resume the old ways of working.

We agree much of how we used to work together is no longer fit for purpose and it would be all too easy to slip back into old habits. But things are different now.

And we want them to be different. We recognise there are benefits for all of us when we take the time to deliberately come together in person. These are things that can never be replicated online, and while often hard to detect, they’re part of what make us a team, and therefore integral to our flourishing as a business.

We want you to know we’re thinking about these things. We’re committed to navigating the hybrid work era together, and so here are our pledges to you:

  • We recognise the nature of work is changing and that you’re the best judge of how best to deliver your work. We understand that includes making decisions about where you work. We fully agree that being able to work from home grants all of us a level of flexibility that improves our sense of wellbeing and work-life balance.
  • We’ve also come to realise there are aspects of how we successfully show up for one another as an integrated team that simply aren’t as effective when we don’t regularly meet in person.
  • But we understand that the role of the office needs to be different now. We understand it’s frustrating to come to the office only to do the things you could do just as well when you’re working from home. We’re committed to thinking differently about the role of our office space moving forward.
  • Instead of it being a place where we work, we want it to be a shared space where we connect, re-connect, learn and grow together. We’ve done our homework and we understand now that much of how we learn, evolve and adapt happens socially, in an unstructured and fluid way. We’re committed to letting our office become a space for social learning, however unconventional that may look.
  • We’ve thought a lot about what makes our culture unique. And about what we need to do as leaders to make sure our culture continues to motivate and inspire you. We’re committed to role-modelling the behaviours that underscore our performance and to delivering a team vibe that reflects inclusion and togetherness, mutual appreciation and a shared desire to deliver value to ALL our stakeholders. Moving forward, we hope you’ll feel that each time you come to the office. If you don’t, we want you to tell us.
  • It’s never been more important to be clear on our business purpose, mission and vision. The outside world feels increasingly turbulent, and we know how important it is that we all remain focused, yet adaptive where necessary. As we get to grips with more fluid and distributed ways of working, we recognise we need to keep sharing our intent with you so that we build the future together.
  • We want to continue to celebrate our achievements together, like we used to before the pandemic. We probably didn’t appreciate it at the time, but these small acts of togetherness are the glue that holds us together. We don’t want to lose that unique aspect of our culture.
  • We’ve heard a number of you say you miss the opportunity to simply hang with your colleagues when you’re working remotely. What if you came to the office for hang days? We know that doesn’t seem much like work, but it’s the invisible stuff that makes us who we are as a team. We must respect and honour that.
  • When you come to the office moving forward, we want you to feel as if the commute was really worth your time. We’ll make sure we invest time and effort in activities that remind us why we’re so great together, so that you always feel connected to our mission and your colleagues, wherever you’re working from. If we don’t, we expect you to tell us how we can do better.
  • We know there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hybrid work. We’re committed to doing whatever’s necessary to find a hybrid work mix that works for all of us.

We know this is a big shift from how we’ve led this business in the past. But we also realise we have no business without the contribution you all make. So, we need to focus on building a resilient and future-proof business that works for each of us. We promise we’ll listen harder, not only to how you think we could improve the way we work together, but also to the valuable insights you have about our industry, our customers, our competitors and what we need to do to stay at the top of our game.

We can’t promise we’ll get things right first time, but we can promise we’ll keep trying to do the right thing. And trust that you’ll tell us when we could do better.

Connection and relationship are what make us better together. From here on in, when you come to the office, we’ll prioritise the activities that help us brainstorm, collaborate and innovate better.

We want us all to achieve the best we can achieve and be the best we can be. We promise to do whatever it takes to help you deliver your best work. Our office is the space where we can show you our commitment to this new approach to work as leaders. We hope you’ll come.


The leadership team

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