How to Manage the Return to Office Transition

After two and a half years of employees acclimating to the work-from-home lifestyle and policies, companies are slowly re-instituting a return-to-office plan and cadence. Although managers and CEOs are antsy to re-establish in-office productivity, many employees are less than thrilled with the idea of trading in their sweats for slacks and their bed for a desk. These changes may seem trivial to some, but for others, they have become their new normal, and unlearning years of habits takes an incredible amount of time and energy exertion. In a recent McKinsey study, 29 percent of respondents said they would consider looking for a new job if their employers insisted they work onsite full time. With the return to work being a non-negotiable for many companies, higher-up management needs to make a conscious effort to streamline that transition to combat that statistic. In doing so, they will retain their top-tier talent as well as cultivate a more enjoyable, healthy environment. Here are a few tips to ease the sting of ditching those sweatpants.

1. Acknowledge the Transition

Acknowledgment is often a tool that is overlooked by management due to its obvious nature of it. However, it can be especially effective for employees to feel seen and validated.

“The first step to a return to office transition is acknowledging the variety of emotions associated with it.” Says Evan Violette, CSS PSG Managing Sales Director. 

In all communications, the sender should articulate the spectrum of feelings and do so in an honest, and direct way. Something as simple as “We understand that for some, this may be an especially difficult transition. Over the past few years, we have grown accustomed to flexibility, spending more time at home with our family, and pants only in the form of drawstrings. However, at ______, we are committed to making this transition as seamless as possible by offering X, Y, and Z. We did not want this communication to go out without acknowledging this change and those feelings associated with it. Please understand management also shares similar sentiments but understands the long-term benefits of in-person communication.”

2. Articulate the Why

Many employees feel strongly that they can be equally, if not more productive at home. So, managers need to provide them with logical reasoning for why the return to office is necessary for work productivity. In these instances, management should lean on data and studies supportive of the return-to-work movement. Additionally, they should reference specific aspects of their own office such as easier approval meetings, specific projects, and in person celebrations. This theory could be compounded by bringing in a motivational speaker who focuses on the importance of face-to-face human connection in a sincere way. There needs to be a clear why that is pertinent to the company and its employees.

3. Communicate Flexible Options

When returning to office, employees should not require a 0-60 transition. Employees are currently used to full time remote environments, so asking them to come back full time is not going to be beneficial to anyone, and especially the company. Companies can offer employees different shift options as well as shorter shifts in office. The focus and priority should be on quality of work, versus exact hours spent in the office. One of the downsides of working from home was the crossover between work life and home life. By bringing back in person working hours, employees may actually reduce their hours and find a stronger delineation between work and home life.

When the country moved to a majority work from home standard, the professional ecosystem that we once knew was completely disrupted. Now, almost three years later, that same ecosystem is again being disrupted, but back to something we were once familiar with. Striking the balance of a return-to-work environment is complex. However, by communicating sincerely, authentically, and with logical reason, employees will feel more like a person and less like a number.


CSS PSG (Professional Staffing Group) has been a leading provider of contract, temporary, and direct hire solutions. Nationally supporting staffing solutions with a focus in Accounting & Finance, Human Resources, Sales & Marketing, and Call Center & Office. Everyone at CSS operates with pro-active pipelines, the highest business ethics, a winning spirit in our approach, and a team-oriented workflow with real cross-training. The CSS team coaches you with current business intelligence so that we can timely deliver solutions to meet your expectations.

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