Whenever a widespread mandatory return does happen in media, it could be a hybrid model split between the office and remote working. In the meantime, for a number of media companies open on a voluntary basis, employers are requiring staffers provide proof of vaccine.
The media industry is not alone. Several fashion companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude and delaying the return of their employees to the office, while some major banks and tech firms have delayed their return.
Here’s what 10 media companies are planning:
Bustle Digital Group
Trisha Dearborn, chief people officer of Bustle Digital Group, whose brands include The Zoe Report, Gawker and Nylon, said this fall, fully vaccinated employees who voluntarily wanted to work from the office began returning a few days a week. But due to the recent surge of COVID-19, offices remain primarily closed throughout January. “We will continue working with BDG’s return to office task force and monitor CDC and local government guidelines for updated plans,” she added.
The publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker’s U.S offices remain open for use on a voluntary basis for vaccinated employees and it is continuing to monitor the situation closely. As previously reported by WWD in July, Condé Nast’s owner Advance Publications paid its rent in May and June (thought to be around $2.4 million per month) for its headquarters at One World Trade Center, but it was still withholding approximately $9.6 million of rent payments for January through April 2021 as it continued to try to negotiate a better rate and reduce space. It paid that bill in full in August and is now is working with the building’s rental agent to sublease its unneeded space.
In a January memo to staffers, CNN boss Jeff Zucker said offices would be reopened on Jan. 18 on a voluntary basis and that any employees opting to work in them must be fully vaccinated, adding that he expects at some point an additional booster will be a requirement for entry. Masks will also be required in workspaces. As for its long planned full reopening, he told employees that the Jan. 24 date is no longer realistic. “As we have always said, all our decisions are made with the built-in flexibility to change as conditions warrant, and with your health and safety as the top priority. My hope is that we will not need to push that date too much further into the future. We will continue to keep you posted, and our offices will remain open, beginning January 18, on a voluntary basis until then.”
In June, Forbes announced it was embracing a hybrid work policy where people can continue to work remotely if they choose and those who wish to come in can choose a schedule that works best for them. For now, its office is open on a voluntary basis. “If individuals choose to come in, they need to comply with our COVID-19 policy, including proof of vaccination and wearing a mask in public areas. We’ve partnered with a third-party vendor called SymCheck to verify vaccination status for all employees and guests,” a spokeswoman told WWD.
The publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Cosmopolitan has its office open on a voluntary basis through the end of the month and will continue to monitor the situation. In November, Hearst’s union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, a federal body that deals with labor disputes, about Hearst’s plan to have them begin returning that same month, starting with one day and gradually rising to three.
Penske Media Corp.
The parent company of WWD, Variety and Rolling Stone has pushed back its mandatory return to the office, which will be a hybrid model, from January. Its offices are open on a voluntary basis, with proof of vaccination required.
The New York Times
A spokesman for the newspaper said: “Given the steep and sudden rise in coronavirus cases attributed to the Omicron variant, our U.S. colleagues are strongly encouraged to work from home if they can and their role enables them to do so. We have put extensive health and safety measures in place to support safe in-person work, including requiring proof of vaccination to enter our offices in the U.S. and mask-wearing at all times, except when eating or drinking, As always we will continue to monitor developments and follow the latest health and safety guidance.”
Dow Jones, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, has opened most of its offices on a voluntary basis until March. “We are continuing preparations for our next phase of office use in all of our global locations. We are excited about how this next phase will enable new ways of working collaboratively together — at home and in the office — while offering you flexibility,” said publisher Almar Latour in a recent note to staffers.
Brooklyn-based Vice Media is not returning to the office and a spokesman said he didn’t have any clear updates to when it will.
As of late December, Vox Media’s offices are closed at least through the end of January, with the exception of a small number of roles that are required to be in the office.
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