So my company has slowly been pulling back on the WFH policy. And for the past six months, we’ve been offering a hybrid schedule, however; the higher-ups decided this week that we are to enforce a full return to the office by the beginning of Q4. This is not going to go over well, how do I soften the blow when explaining the new policy to the team?

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Why do these old crones have to take away every last ounce of joy. Get with the times. People can be productive while wfh. We have the technology to ensure it.

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Exactly, our team has been hitting benchmarks, but the higher-ups are worried because the economy is starting to take its toll and Q3 is underperforming. So, this is the first "fix" they came up with.

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If the higher-ups have made the decision, why aren’t they communicating it?

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Cowards. Business leaders need to do their own dirty work!!

Find out the drivers behind the decision and share them openly. I assume/hope that there is some data regarding productivity, collaboration, etc. rather than just some executive(s) who "don't believe in remote".

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Agreed, it's the only way to come out of this with some level of openness/positivity. Explain the reasonings and allow them space to push back

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The de facto rationale for on-site return is to foster “collaboration”. To that I ask, what the F have you been doing that last 2 and a half years if you’re still in business?

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This seems to be a panic response to a struggling economy, a slowing Q3, and a lack of creativity from the upper management team

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That’s disappointing to hear that the leadership team is enforcing this. Get ready for some attrition.

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I know, I'm concerned about losing the top performers and long-term damage to team morale

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Our organization is also in “conversations” about this. We have been operating a hybrid model as well. The CEO is seeing a decline in the productivity of the employees who work in our lab facilities, therefore he is considering to bring all employees in that location back 4 times a week regardless of role. I had explained this will not be well received by the team and we are seeing it is hard to attract talent already in addition to the attrition and turnover. I tried to ask the CEO to define what he believes is “culture” and I did not receive a response. Employees want flexibility.

The approach I am going to take is trying to get to the root cause of the concerns the CEO is having and maybe it’s a certain group we need to bring back on-site for more days due to their specific role. However, I would advise against ALL ROLES returning FT. I have started to really evaluate what is within my “circle of control”. If it is not and the CEO decides to take this approach. He has to be ready for turnover and the fall out of a disengaged team.

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I hear a lot of companies are starting to enforce a policy of getting their team back in the office. It is a shame that managers don't trust their team members more

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What company is this, if you don’t mind sharing? I would explain the benefits of in person collaboration.

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We're a sizeable promotional printing company, and of course, the warehouse team needs to be there but bringing a group of competitive salespeople back and sticking them together 40 hours a week sounds like an excellent way to get back to the toxic work environment of days past. Keep in mind, that our sales team communicates with their clients over the phone and online, most of our clients our out of state, so there is no in-person contact. The customer service team has been working remotely successfully for over two years and the marketing team does all of their work digitally anyway. Plus, we have several out-of-town employees who work remotely, and allowing them to continue to do so while everyone else must return to the office full time, doesn't sound like a get way to improve our culture

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I don't iknow if there isa way to soften the blow, I would just rip the bandaid right off. Many places are going full back to office so there is not much we can do. The world is trying to return to some sort of normal.

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We did a full blown return to office after a remote model. It did not go well and we were losing EE to competition. So after seeing that, we did a hybrid schedule.

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Might as well tell people now... There's no way of "softening the blow". just be prepared for high turnover. Companies that can't/won't make the adjustment to hybrid or remote work should be prepared for people to walk.

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Sorry this is happening and you are dealing with this. It's a challenge for sure. Here's a data point for your higher-ups. I meet with people all the time that are looking specifically for remote opportunities because their companies are going from full remote to full in-person and also going hybrid in some cases

I'd ask the higher-ups the reasoning behind that decision and relay that (lack of) reasoning to your staff. Especially since they don't have the courage to explain it themselves. And with 2 open jobs for every unemployed person right now, I'd probably start looking for a new job as this doesn't sound like the type of organization I'd want to be contributing to.

Couple of thoughts: You might play the, "Since we work as a team, since the warehouse team has to be on location, we feel it is best that all employees work on site unless you were hired with a different agreement." You might also want to say or imply that this will be assessed after some time period to determine if this will be permanent or if you might return to a hybrid or remote work arrangement. Good luck!

CRH Americas 1 - the warehouse employees do have a choice: they can vote with their feet and leave.

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