The country’s largest trade book publishers continue to revise their back-to-the-office policies. Yesterday, Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch told employees that no one will be required to return to its various offices until 2022. HBG joins Macmillan in pushing any official return date until the beginning of next year. All Big Five publishers have begun, or will start, soft openings allowing employees to return to the office if they wish.

That option remains open at HBG. In his missive to staff, Pietsch wrote that, while all HBG employees whose jobs permit it can continue to work from home, its offices in Berkeley, Boston, Boulder, Nashville, New York, and Philadelphia remain open to any staff member who wants to use them. Anyone using the offices must be vaccinated, and there will be capacity limits in place. HBG’s warehouse in Indiana remains open, with screening protocols and social distance restrictions in place.

No official start date has been set for when employees will be expected to be back in the office, but as he did when HBG pushed back plans for reopening in September, Pietsch said that employees will receive at least four weeks' notification for a return date.

In explaining the decision to delay a mandated return to office, Pietsch cited what has become a familiar list of reasons, including “concerns about Covid-19 and the Delta variant, the possibility of transmission even by fully vaccinated individuals, and the lack of a vaccine for children.” But even as HBG postponed the official office reopening date, Pietsch reiterated his belief in the importance of being in an office environment.

“We’ve been looking forward to rejoining our office communities and enjoying the many benefits of in-person work,” Pietsch wrote. “Our company and our culture are vastly richer and more vibrant when we are together. But employee health is always our first consideration. We will continue to watch closely to see when increased vaccinations, the availability of vaccines for young children, and other measures help to make our return to the office safer for everyone.”