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With executives asking their employees to return to office and doing everything from giving charitable donations to warning employees, many leaders are thinking about how to solve this problem without suffering through massive resignations, protests or becoming the next headline.  The Great Return is such a big event that companies who were fully remote pre-pandemic are getting in on the action.

The cost of getting Return to Work wrong is extremely high; quiet quitting or engagement drops 5%, loud quitting or active disengagement increases 7% and resignations could fall between 21%68%

Are you prepared to suffer those losses?  If not, be sure to avoid the following mistakes.

How to Fail at Return to Office in 5 Easy Steps

  • Mandate Return to Office – Don’t get bogged down by details or asking your employees what they want.  Being flexible just gets in the way.  Set a date and, if they don’t come back in, they are voluntarily resigning.  Bonus, this strategy saves your company from paying severance.
  • Don’t Give Reasons – Giving reasons why employees will benefit from coming back to the office is a good way to distract them from doing their work.  Keep them focused by keeping transparency to a minimum.
  • Show a Strong Presence – Internally, you might be struggling with questions around return to office or not being sure how to set up the in-person days effectively, don’t show that vulnerability.  People follow strong leaders and being vulnerable gets in the way of showing your strength.
  • Make Office Days Virtual – One company had people come back to the office but then had them call-in for virtual meetings.  The last thing you want to do is hold in-person meetings, encourage coffee chats, build relationships with your people or spend time developing your people.
  • Don’t Ask for Feedback – Building trust, psychological safety and asking for feedback is only good when we want our people to tell us how happy they are and how great we are as leaders.  Asking for feedback with Return to Office is just going to reinforce to our people that they don’t want to come back in.


Of course, I’m poking fun at companies but many executives are grappling with RTO and some are making those mistakes.  Ultimately, the answer lies in being 2.0 human-centric, empathetic leader.  This means that you foster trust & psychological safety which gives you real answers when you’re asking people what they want from RTO.  It means that you’re flexible with people’s different circumstances and you navigate leadership by being confident in your abilities but not pretending you have it all figured out.

Leadership 2.0 is a mindset shift, it’s a shift from the command & control, fear-driven workplace where the manager is always right to a trust-based workplace where people communicate and work together to create the best solutions.  

Did I mention that Leadership 2.0 gets the best results not just outperforming the stock market and corporate goals but also for your people’s wellbeing?

Can you afford to get return to office wrong?  Can you afford to lose a significant amount of your people and lose engagement from the ones who stay?  If not, in just 12 weeks you can learn how to get RTO right with the best, research & neuroscience backed leadership strategies that will not only bring your employees back to the office effectively but also turn them into happy high-performers who crush their goals.  Learn more.

Rob Kalwarowsky | High-Performance & Leadership Coach 

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