The Washington Post has sent a memo to all its employees encouraging them to work from home if possible in response to the novel coronavirus crisis. The soft quarantine begins Wednesday and will last at least through the end of the month, Post Publisher Fred Ryan told staffers in a memo Tuesday.
The Post, like many other DC-area outlets, had already asked journalists who covered CPAC to work from home for seven days out of an abundance of caution after a CPAC employee tested positive for the virus. The Post has already canceled nonessential travel for employees and all WP Live events for March. It has also canceled office tours.
The news organization nonetheless intends “to continue our operations at full scale even with this change in employee locations,” Ryan says.
In a follow-up memo from human resources VP Wayne Connell, the Post offers tips for employees to access work applications from home. As to childcare, while “Normally, if an employee works from home, our expectation is that the employee also arranges for childcare, just as if they had come into the office,” Connell says “these are special circumstances, and we recognize that obtaining childcare may be more difficult.” If you’re unable to find other care, “Please do the best that you can, even if that means working intermittently throughout the day as you juggle the needs of your family with the needs of your job.”
No employee will be charged for sick or vacation time while working from home. Connell also offers tips on maintaining work-life balance when your home is your office: “Get up at a similar time, get ready, and find a spot that you designate for work.” And don’t forget to let your manager know when you’re clocking out.
Here’s Ryan’s memo:
To All Washington Post Employees,
The Post leadership team has been closely monitoring developments in the response to the coronavirus crisis, and how it may affect our essential mission to serve our readers and assure the well-being of our employees. We have decided to begin encouraging (but not mandating) employees to work from home if your role and equipment needs make it practical to do so, starting tomorrow through the end of the month. We intend to continue our operations at full scale even with this change in employee locations. As we get more information from the CDC and local officials, we will continue to evaluate this position, and will let you know if further changes are deemed necessary.
This decision will likely generate questions about workflows, how best to work from home and more. Vice President of HR Wayne Connell will be sending out a communication shortly addressing some of those questions, and department heads will follow up with their individual teams to help everyone better understand the expectations and their role during this time. We will continue to take every precaution to help mitigate any spread of covid-19 to our employees while maintaining the operations that serve our readers around the globe.