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I want to say "Welcome back" to my team mate who is at the same level in the organisation, when he came back to work after the new year holiday. But it sounds like a message sent from a boss to the employee.

Is it appropriate to do this between me and my peers?

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    It's cool to say it to an equal-level colleague. – Michael Harvey Jan 5 at 19:40
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You can say it to anyone really! It just carries a sense of them being absent from a place where they usually are, while you are still there, and then you greet them when they return. It's a friendly and polite thing to say.

If that feels too much like you're representing the company, you could just make it more of a personal greeting, like "good to see you again", "it's nice to have you back" etc.

And you wouldn't say welcome back if you've both been away, e.g. over the winter break, because it would be strange for you to say "ah you've returned" when you weren't there yourself!

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