ViacomCBS employees won’t be returning to their offices until October 18 “at the very earliest,” CEO Bob Bakish said in a memo to staff today (read it below). He also said the company will continue to require employees currently working at U.S. locations “to be fully vaccinated” and wear masks.
He said executives are “assessing if we will make this vaccination requirement mandatory for all employees returning to the office” in the plan’s next phase.
The memo obtained by Deadline says the company is delaying its overall plan’s “Green Phase” – when most staffers will go into their offices – and will continue to “closely monitor the impacts of the Delta variant and the response from schools, governments and other employers” as it cements plans.
“Please know that we’ve made these decisions out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of everyone in the ViacomCBS community,” the exec said.
The company is the latest to react to the alarming recent surge in Covid cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles, California and elsewhere in the country. Earlier today, Netflix announced that it is mandating that employees and visitors to its offices be vaccinated against the disease. Sony Pictures Entertainment said Monday that it is postponing its return-to-work plan by at least a month. the Culver Sity studio originally had set September 7 for its staffers to start heading back.
A principal from one major management firm told Deadline this week: “Three or four weeks ago we re-opened with a summer schedule of three day weeks in the office, in person. We went back to virtual a week later. As the old adage goes, we made plans and God laughed.”
Here is Bakish’s memo in full:
Even as we balance a lot on our plates – both at work and at home – we continue to make great progress on our company priorities for the year. That said, I know this remains a very difficult and uncertain period for all of us and our loved ones.
As you are well aware, in recent weeks, the highly contagious Delta variant has driven a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and globally, especially where vaccination rates are low. Given this development, and after consulting our medical and public health experts, we have come to a few important decisions with regards to our policies for returning to U.S. offices:
First, in line with CDC guidance, effective immediately, we are requiring indoor masking for all employees working at our U.S. locations – regardless of their vaccination status.
Second, we are delaying the Green Phase of our return – when most of us will come into the office as part of the hybrid model – until October 18, 2021, at the very earliest. We will continue to closely monitor the impacts of the Delta variant and the response from schools, governments and other employers as we finalize our plans to return to the office.
Third, we continue to require employees working at our U.S. locations during the Yellow phase to be fully vaccinated, with some previously noted exceptions for certain union, production and essential on-site personnel. We are assessing if we will make this vaccination requirement mandatory for all employees returning to the office in the Green phase, and will update you with the specifics of this policy as soon as it is finalized, with sufficient time for you and your teams to satisfy any mandatory requirements.
Please know that we’ve made these decisions out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of everyone in the ViacomCBS community, which has and will always be our top priority. We’re focused on getting this right, which means continuing to be deliberative in our approach as conditions evolve.
I’ll be covering these updates and other important company news at BOB LIVE tomorrow, August 5, at 12:30pm ET, so I encourage you to tune in or watch the replay.
In the meantime, please remember to visit the Workplace Evolution page for more information and resources, and if you have questions not yet addressed in our FAQ guide or other materials, please email [redacted].
I’m so proud that amid these challenging circumstances we continue to lift each other up and support our audiences, partners and communities more than ever before. Thank you.