The Washington Post plans to invite employees to begin to return to the newsroom this July, Post publisher Fred Ryan told staffers in a virtual town hall Wednesday. Post employees who volunteer to return can do so beginning July 6, with a maximum of 10 percent of the publication’s workforce in its physical offices at first. The Post hopes to get everyone back in the newsroom this fall, with the expectation that “those who return to our offices have received their full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.”
The date of Ryan’s announcement is significant: The Post urged employees to work from home on March 10, 2020, during a week that began with the coronavirus crisis seeming like a far-off concern to many Americans and ended with a large number of people going home. Ryan’s memo from last year envisioned working from home until at least the end of the month.
Here’s Ryan’s memo to staff, which followed the town hall:
To All Washington Post Employees,
It was one year ago today that we announced the temporary closure of our offices due to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus. At the time, we could not begin to appreciate the severity and duration of the virus’s impact and the tumultuous events of the year that followed.
During this time, despite the shock and utter disruption to our lives, The Washington Post has fulfilled its essential mission in ways that it has never been required to do in its 143-year history.
Overcoming the obstacles and challenges of working remotely, our newsroom has provided vital reporting and thoughtful perspective to the largest national and global audience The Washington Post has ever had.
Our production and delivery teams have been hard at work every day over the course of this very difficult year. They have performed with diligence and devotion to be sure that our subscribers receive their newspapers every morning without delay.
Our engineering team has kept all of our systems up and functioning to peak capacity to serve the record-breaking number of visitors to our site and apps.
Washington Post Live has grown from an in-person events business to a robust daily streaming platform featuring senior political and government officials of both parties, top CEOs, medical experts, Hollywood stars and respected thought leaders on the most compelling issues of our time.
Our security team has kept us safe and secure as one crisis has shifted to the next and our human resources team has kept us informed with frequent coronavirus updates.
Our client solutions department has worked hard to make sure we achieve and exceed our revenue targets in a very challenging year and our subscription team has led a company-wide effort to take us to the 3 million digital subscriber milestone. And teams across The Post have been working hard to manage our business, launch new initiatives and build new products.
This past year has not been easy for anyone at The Washington Post. In fact, it has been quite hard, trying and unpredictable at times. Many Post employees have been caring for and home-educating their children. Some have their parents or other vulnerable relatives in their care who are now more dependent upon them than ever before. Other Post employees who live alone in small apartments have felt the loneliness that isolation can bring. We have all faced fears and uncertainties from this invisible virus and have lost friends, family members and colleagues to it.
Today, as we mark this long and grueling year apart, I am pleased to offer some encouraging news. Since the day we left our offices, a team of leaders across The Post has been working diligently to plan the right circumstances for our safe return. Based on current projections for vaccine delivery and declining trends in new Covid cases, we believe we can now begin that process. We will initiate the gradual return to our Washington headquarters beginning on Tuesday, July 6, starting with approximately 10% of our overall workforce.
Our plan would be to scale up as safety permits with the expectation that everyone would be able to return to the office sometime this fall. The initial stages of the return will be voluntary with accommodations made to family needs, temporary relocations and health needs of our employees. This will inevitably be a complicated process, and we expect that we will learn a lot along the way, including what we need to enable true collaboration between those in the office and those working from other locations. We will expect those who return to our offices have received their full doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Covid pandemic has been unpredictable and fraught with uncertainties. The safety and well-being of Post employees will be paramount in shaping our decisions. Should circumstances change, we will adjust our plans accordingly and keep you informed step-by-step through this process.
These have been challenging times when the mission of The Washington Post and the work we do has made a profound difference. As publisher, I could not be more proud of all the work that you have done at this time when it could not be more critical to the needs of our readers and the health of our democracy. I want to thank you – each of you – for the incredible contributions you have made in what I know will be a very important chapter in the history of The Washington Post.