The last day of work. You’ve been sitting in your office for two weeks Googling can I shorten my notice without damaging my relationship with my employer? and now, you’re in the home stretch. Only eight more hours—probably less if we’re being honest. Internally, the curtain-closer “We Go Together” from Grease is playing on a loop, while externally, you’re on your best behavior. To quell that youthful John Travolta bop until the clock strikes 5 p.m. is truly a feat of professionalism. We applaud you.
Now, before you pack up your things, turn in your badge, and ride off into the clouds, there are a few “last day of work” traditions you simply must do. (We are totally kidding. Do none of these.)
Choose your outfit carefully
On this day of days, you want to leave a lasting impression—one that will have people thinking, I wish I were so bold as to wear jeans on a Wednesday. Keep your look classy, of course, but channel your inner “rebel with a cause.” What is your objective, you may ask? To show your soon-to-be work exes who you really are. Yes, now is the time to break out that Tim McGraw–Faith Hill Soul2Soul World Tour t-shirt. You know, the screen-printed one where they’re facing each other while singing into the same microphone like they do in the show? It goes with everything.
This is honestly just good for you and has nothing to do with your last day of work.
Practice saying “I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask someone else.” with that serene, this-is-no-longer-my-problem look on your face
If you were really ready to leave your job, you might have this one down. If not, here’s how to successfully check out of your current role: Imagine your face is a Krispy Kreme doughnut made just as the “HOT NOW” light came on. As you allow that sweet glaze to wash over your features, stare directly at your coworker’s left ear and recite the phrase above. Smile slightly after you say it. Don’t blink. Say nothing else.
Whisper profound goodbyes to everyone in the office
It’s important to leave your former coworkers in a state of wonderment at having known you. As you take your leave, whisper to each one something both eerie and profound that you might have said to an ex-boyfriend if only he’d listened:
It was so nice working with you, Kevin. Remember, all endings are also beginnings. My beginning is a new and exciting career; yours is life without me. Good luck
Dishita, I wish you the best. Our connection here has been deep and wide, like the Amazon River. It’s also been life-giving, like the Amazon, but even the three-toed sloth inches away from the water to find the sun.
Parker, I didn’t believe before that you could actually close a door and open a window at the same time, but then I heard about tiny houses and thought, “If they can do it, I can too.”
Prepare a speech
Your manager’s goodbye will never do you justice. Call a department-wide meeting, then fill in this last-day-of-work speech:
My (adjective) coworkers,
On, this, my last day at (insert company name), I would like to first thank my (noun) for providing (mental/emotional/physical/spiritual) support throughout my time here. Every day, I’ve tried to be my best self by coming in (time of day) and offering to (something your coworkers definitely didn’t want and might actually hate). I know that I will miss (activity that’s only used for icebreakers) with you all. When I’m gone, remember how I used to (verb) each new employee in order to make them feel welcome. I hope you continue that tradition in my absence. (Iconic song lyric or movie quote.)
My darling coworkers,
On, this, my last day at Cake Pops R Us, I would like to first thank my office plant for providing physical support throughout my time here. Every day, I’ve tried to be my best self by coming in before Sandra and offering to retouch my coworkers’ makeup. I know that I will miss doing the human knot with you all. When I’m gone, remember how I used to shadow each new employee in order to make them feel welcome. I hope you continue that tradition in my absence. You’ll never walk alone.
Take stock of what you’d like to take with you when you leave
So often, departing employees offload their office supplies on others, but what you should really ask is what you can take when you go. Asking your coworkers or boss, can I have that? is an excellent way to acquire organizational supplies, small plants, new artwork for your home, and staplers.
Prime your walkout music
This is a given. We recommend, among others:
“We Are the Champions” by Queen
“We Are Never Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift
“Stay with Me” by Sam Smith
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham
“Goodbye to You” by Michelle Branch
“Titanium” by David Guetta
You can also call your coworkers after you leave just to play “Hello” by Adele. 10/10, would recommend.
In all seriousness
Here’s what you should really do on your last day of work:
Write thank-you notes to people you hope to work with again, and include your contact information.
Thank your manager for something specific. (Your feedback on my writing has been incredibly instructive. I’ve loved your directness.)
Say goodbye to everyone, even your office frenemy.
Set an out of office that tells emailers who to contact now that you’re no longer working at the company.
Eat lunch with your crew.
Turn in all your work swag. Isn’t it nice to be down to one cell phone again?
Ask HR about your benefits moving forward and who you should contact after you leave if you have questions.
Give professional, constructive feedback in an exit interview.
Oh, and eat breakfast. That never changes.