CNN’s Jeff Zucker told the network’s workforce on Wednesday that most staffers will not be returning to their offices until early September as precautions remain to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Zucker said that as they look to phase back in “very slowly,” “we will not be returning to the office in any significant way any time soon.”
In an email to employees obtained by Deadline, Zucker wrote that they are currently at about 10% of their workforce around the globe still going to their offices, and that number will increase to around 15% in early June.
“Our expectation is that the rest of you will not return before early September, with a few exceptions in July for newsgathering and some in August, depending on the political conventions,” he wrote. “Of course, none of these dates are set in stone, with many questions left to be answered before we can move forward. But, to be clear, production of our programs will continue from home, as it is now, until the end of summer. Same for digital.”
Some on-air personalities have continued to anchor from single-person studios at the network’s New York offices, while others have been reporting from their homes. Chris Cuomo, who contracted the virus, has been hosting his show Cuomo Prime Time from his basement.
Zucker wrote, “I fully understand that this news will be met with mixed emotions. Some will be relieved, others disappointed. We understand that. Our hope is that all of you appreciate the very tricky balance we are solving for – with the top priority being your well-being.”
Word of the decision was first reported by The Daily Beast.
Other media outlets also are trying to determine when to return to workplaces. In a memo to employees earlier this month, Fox News had targeted May 4 for a reopening state, but that has since been extended to May 15. New York and other locales have extended stay-at-home orders through the middle of the month.
Zucker’s memo is below:
It has been six weeks since most of us began working from home. The world has changed dramatically in that time, and so has the way CNN operates. Once again, I want to thank every one of you for your continued commitment to keeping us on the air and online. We have informed more people around the world about this global pandemic than any other news organization.
As I noted last week, we are starting to think about how some of us might return to the office in the weeks and months ahead. We remain heavily reliant on local authorities, as well as our partners at AT&T and WarnerMedia, as we think about those decisions. But we have made some early decisions. I wanted to share this information now because I know many of you are already looking ahead at the summer months, as it relates to planning for yourselves and your families.
First and foremost, in every stage of this in the months ahead, our priority will always be on health and safety. There will be significant protocols in place in our workspaces that will reflect that, and I expect they will be in place for many months to come. We are also very cognizant of the pressure that is on many of us with children, especially with schools not in session and many summer camps and activities curtailed. Additionally, there are significant issues with regards to transportation in large metro areas, and many questions remain on the availability of testing.
So, here is the headline: we will not be returning to the office in any significant way any time soon. We will phase back in very slowly, with emphasis in the beginning on roles that are directly related to keeping the CNN US network on the air, as well as newsgathering. As a result, for the majority of you, across all of our networks and platforms, return to the office will not happen in any significant way before the end of the summer. We are currently at about 10 percent of our workforce in our offices around the globe. We expect that number to increase to around 15 percent in the first phase, in early June. Our expectation is that the rest of you will not return before early September, with a few exceptions in July for newsgathering and some in August, depending on the political conventions. Of course, none of these dates are set in stone, with many questions left to be answered before we can move forward. But, to be clear, production of our programs will continue from home, as it is now, until the end of summer. Same for digital. I should also note that our Hong Kong office will likely be operating on a different timetable, as they have throughout this crisis, determined by local conditions there.
We are working closely with your division leaders to establish which of you will be in the first, small wave of people that will return to the office. But really, it will just be an extension of how we are working now, and will continue to be on a volunteer basis only. For those of you who will potentially be part of this group, you will be hearing from your managers in the coming weeks. As I said, I do not anticipate even this group returning to any of our offices before early June. I assure you, as we make these decisions, we will keep you informed.
I fully understand that this news will be met with mixed emotions. Some will be relieved, others disappointed. We understand that. Our hope is that all of you appreciate the very tricky balance we are solving for – with the top priority being your well-being.
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to your manager or your HR partner if you have questions or concerns. What I most want to communicate to you now is that we will be taking this VERY slowly in the months ahead. You will be hearing more from your leadership and me as our plans come together. I remain incredibly impressed at how well this entire organization has adapted to our new reality, and as a result, we are able to approach this return with all of the precaution and good sense that it deserves. So once again, my thanks to all of you.