Employees returning to the office after working from home during Covid-19 were greeted with a series of “hostile” and “mocking” signs.
Employees returning to an office building in Canada after working from home during Covid-19 have been greeted with a series of “hostile” and “mocking” signs, sparking viral outrage and an apology from the company.
One of the signs featured a picture of a sad-looking dog with the caption, “Bet your dog’s missing you.” Another read, “Miss your sweatpants yet? Welcome back.”
The pictures, taken at the Richmond-Adelaide Centre in the Toronto CBD, went viral after being posted to Twitter this week by user Audra Williams.
“In the lobby of an office building in Toronto. I guess to make sure employees are flooded with resentment the instant they walk in the door?” she wrote in the post, which has been retweeted nearly 11,000 times.
“These genuinely read like actively hateful messages holy sh*t what is the intention here,” one person wrote.
“Can a marketing guru explain to me what the end goal is with this messaging?” another asked.
Someone replied, “My best guess is they thought this was a playfully cheeky way to welcome people back, but failed to read the room.”
Another user wrote, “The dog one is worse when you realise that some pet owners really are going to have pets dealing with separation anxiety. Especially people who got a pet during the pandemic and have never known the owner to be gone for the day.”
One person added, “Seriously, I would turn on my heel and go home. I won’t return to the office. They cannot compensate me enough. My productivity has improved, I get three hours back each day (priceless) and I don’t have to share the air on public transit, or in my poorly ventilated office space. No thanks.”
The photos were also shared to Reddit’s popular Antiwork forum. “Nothing beats a passive aggressive guilt trip to welcome workers back,” the title read.
One user commented, “Is there a sign that says, ‘We own you, you piece of sh*t’?”
Another wrote, “They’re mocking employees at this point.”
One user suggested building management was “bitter because working from home makes their real-estate investment look stupid and also less valuable”.
Building owner Oxford Properties has apologised and says the signage has already been removed.
“Unfortunately, in an attempt to be lighthearted the signage came off as uncaring, which was never our intention,” the company said in a statement to blogTO.
“The signage clearly missed the mark and was removed last week as a result. The campaign should have not made it into production and we sincerely apologise to any customers, colleagues and members of the public that were offended.”
It comes after some Australian office workers expressed similar reluctance to return to the office as states transition away from Covid-19 restrictions.
Millions of employees have become accustomed to the work-from-home lifestyle over the past two years, and experts have warned coaxing them back will be difficult.
“The issue here is not so much a Great Resignation, but how to deal with a Great Resistance to the idea of returning to the office, and the daily commute,” Mark Wooden and Peter Gahan from the University of Melbourne wrote for The Conversation in November.
Last month, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced Victorians “can head back to work next week without needing to wear a mask in the office”.
“You’ll still need to wear a mask in some workplaces, rideshares, public transport, hospitals, and a few other circumstances,” he wrote on Twitter.
“But this means Victorians can head back to work next week without needing to wear a mask in the office. And cafes and lunch spots around Victoria can start to welcome back the regulars they’ve missed so much.”
While many were pleased restrictions are easing, some accused the government of trying to revive the economy at expense of public health.
A single comment on Twitter received 13,000 likes.
“So we’re straight, I’m expected to spend $15 bucks a day to spend 2 hours travelling on rona riddled trains, pay for and put my son in outside hours care, and the sole reason I need to do all this is to prop up CBD cafes?” the user wrote.