Stressing that even these tentative plans could change if new developments warrant, Penguin Random House US CEO Madeline McIntosh sent an email to company employees outlining the current thinking about how and where employees will work as more people are vaccinated.
According to McIntosh, PRH will begin to expand access to its various offices—"for those who need to use them”—in September, a date she said is written in pencil. "The September return date is based on the hope that the vaccination rate will make if safe to return to the office." But, she added, "all of this could change. As has been true from the beginning, we’ll be guided by public health experts, local and national authorities, and our own cocktail of caution and common sense."
Even once the building opens, McIntosh believes masks and social distancing guidelines will still be needed, and noted that PRH is still working through its own vaccination guidelines.
While it is PRH’s intention to provide an office for all those who want and/or need one, McIntosh said PRH’s “guiding principle [is] that we will be a ‘remote-friendly’ company. That doesn’t mean that everyone will work from home all the time, but it does mean that those who choose to and are able to do their jobs from home (which is most of us, as 2020 showed) can continue to do so. As a company, we will vigorously support this mode.” McIntosh noted that she and the PRH US board are all planning to continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
McIntosh acknowledged that such friendly remote-work policy does raise questions about PRH's headquarters. “At some point, it’s possible that we will want to undertake a significant redesign of 1745 Broadway, but we’re not there yet,” she wrote.
McIntosh closed by providing more guidelines for the next phases in establishing new work routines, stressing again, in italics, that "these aren’t 'forever' commitments":
"Think of these conversations as shared planning and problem-solving exercises, in which you as an individual will share your preference with your manager, and together you’ll identify any challenges you and your department could face in home, hybrid, or office modes, as well as ways those challenges could be overcome.
For most of us, there’s no reason to rush into these conversations. While the offices might indeed open in September, that doesn’t mean there are any deadlines in place. The buildings will become a resource, but not a required one.
Since these conversations may take a certain amount of bandwidth for everyone, and since we’re all accustomed to vaccination eligibility phases, we can apply that framework here in scheduling these individual planning conversations:
Phase 1, starting very soon: employees who want to relocate. For these colleagues, there are practical considerations for which we’ll provide additional information.
Phase 2, starting once Phase 1 is complete: employees who aren’t relocating but do want to stay fully remote.
Phase 3, starting once we have a good handle on Phase 2: everyone else."