Informational E-Mail Rhetorical Analysis: Nike VP E-Mails Workers

Instructors: Use this real-world sample of a direct message as a way to solidify students’ understanding of the genre’s structure and writing strategies.


Jeff Nichols, Nike’s vice president of workplace design and connectivity, sent the e-mail below outlining employees’ return to the sportswear global giant’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Read the e-mail and answer the questions that follow.

WHQ Teammates,

By now you should have received a message from Mo about our return to the workplace, and some of you may have also heard from your geo VP/GM. Here, we’d like to share additional details and guidance for those of you who are office-based outside of Retail and Air MI, with office locations at World Headquarters and returning to the workplace in the coming months.

First, and most important, we can’t wait to see you in person! While it’s true many of us feel productive working remotely, there’s something about spending time in the office with your team. WHQ is the physical representation of Nike’s heart and soul. Coming back together means the opportunity to honor our legacy and create the future together. And we’ll do it with added flexibility – because we know that work happens anywhere, not just in an office.

WHQ’s Phased Return 

Throughout the pandemic, WHQ has remained open and supported business-critical work with stringent processes in place around health and safety. Starting in June, we’ll gradually open campus for more employees, and ramp up services and amenities over the summer. We’ll work in close partnership with functional leaders to welcome teams back to WHQ, in accordance with government guidance and employee safety considerations. The hope is that by September, all buildings on campus will be open at reduced capacity.

Supporting Our Flexible Working Model at WHQ 

As Mo shared, the current plan is to move to a new model that will allow all office-based teammates to work remotely up to two days a week, with the expectation that we come into the office at least three days a week. Over time, we anticipate that norms will develop around the days we’re together, and we’ll learn and assess what works best.

Given what we’ve learned in the last year – the need to allow for more flexibility, remain agile and ensure greater equity – campus will look, feel and operate a bit differently. In fact, this was the journey we had been on pre-pandemic, designing our workplace and creating environments that adapt to future ways of working and enhance the employee experience. Like so many other initiatives, this work accelerated in the past year and you’ll notice changes to amenities and services that align to our new ways of working (and living). One example is the addition of more flexible, shared workspaces and collaboration areas. Another is mobile food ordering; you’ll see this same capability for on-campus food options. These changes, with more to come, are detailed in the WHQ Field Guide on Workvivo.

We’ll continue to leverage technology to support our flexible working model and our safe return to the workplace – developing a reservation system that adheres to capacity limits and upgrading campus technology to better support virtual meeting attendees.

We’ll still follow strong, established safety protocols around enhanced cleaning, social distancing and face coverings. You can read more in the Field Guide or in our COVID-19 and Workplace Practices at WHQ FAQ. We continue to follow the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules for COVID-19, including the requirement that all individuals wear face coverings at the workplace, regardless of vaccination status. Also implemented is a clean desk policy, which allows for social distancing with the mandate to clear all items from the desk you are using each day.

What’s Next 

We’ll provide more information in July, after Oregon OSHA’s next planned update. Until then, please check the WHQ space on Workvivo for regular service updates, program announcements and other campus-related content. We know you have questions, and we have some answers; check Zero for our Return to Workplace FAQ, which we’ll continue to update. You’re also welcome to send me thoughts and feedback.

Please remember, we are all learning and evolving the way we work together. This flexible model is new to all of us, and we’ll continue to seek your input and make adjustments as needed over time. Thank you for your continued patience and resilience. We’re excited to see you soon.

Jeff Nichols
VP, WD+C, Americas

Rhetorical Analysis

  1. Which category/type of message is the e-mail? Support your answer.
  2. In which paragraph do you find the main idea? Why is it placed there?
  3. In which paragraphs do you find the details supporting the main idea?
  4. How does the e-mail close?
  5. Examine the salutation. Why does Nichols address readers as he does?
  6. What purpose do the headings serve?
  7. Why does the author use short paragraphs?
  8. How does the author build buy-in to the new procedures?
  9. What techniques does Nichols employ to ensure readability, and could he do more to make the document easier to read/skim?
  10. What have you learned from analyzing this real-world example? How will you incorporate what you’ve learned into your writing process for business documents?

Classroom Exercise_Rhetorical Analysis

Key_Rhetorical Analysis Exercise


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