Politico employees won’t return to the office until at least Labor Day, and work afterward will look very different from before the pandemic. That’s according to a memo from Politico honcho Robert Allbritton to staffers at the Rosslyn-based news organization Friday.
Employees who return to the office after Labor Day will encounter a host of hybrid-work options, Allbritton writes. Politico will survey employees over the summer about what they want from their schedules and their office space and make plans based on that feedback. While some people, including senior leaders, may need to be in the office more regularly, remote work “will not be a disadvantage”:
Your work is too important to live with FOMO or fear any disadvantage by not being at the office. We ask you to continue doing great work that you have been doing throughout the pandemic. In return, your work will be evaluated by your results, not where you get it done.
To that end, Politico’s “new normal will include the option to connect by video or audio whenever practical.” This commitment follows CEO Patrick Steel’s memo last October that said the company recognized “there may be some departments or positions that do not require a regular physical presence in our offices and are better suited to working remotely full-time.” Over all, Allbritton writes in the memo, expect adjustments: These plans are “version 1.0 of how we will work in the future.”
As we approach the Memorial Day holiday, I know that many of you are making summer plans.
More than 125 million Americans are now fully vaccinated—incredibly welcome news for all of us who, no doubt, have a long list of coworkers, friends, and family that we are excited to visit. The success of the vaccine prompted the CDC to provide updated guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance.
Given the implications of that guidance, I thought it would be a good time to share an update about a return to our physical office space(s). In order to provide you with as much certainty as possible to ensure that you have ample time to visit family and friends during the summer months (and to provide parents ample time to prepare for your children to return to school), our current remote work status will continue through the summer months and be replaced with a hybrid status after Labor Day.
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Our goals are simple to articulate, but a bit complex to execute. There is no perfect way to do this. All of us to working remotely in perpetuity is not a realistic option. So, in the spirit of full transparency, here are a few principles that will guide our approach:
- Keep everyone safe and Healthy. Period. That’s number one. We will use the CDC guidelines (and all appropriate federal/state/local laws and regulations) as a North Star.
- Provide you with the highest level of flexibility in where and how you work, while maintaining our high standards for productivity. Over the summer we will be asking everyone questions about their needs and desires for office use. We will use this time, and our best efforts, to create options and a plan on how to implement these principles based on your feedback.
- Re-Imagine our office space in a more productive way. We all invest in travel time when we go to the office. Let’s make sure we get the benefit of that time – the office should be a place where we can collaborate, share ideas, and get things done without distractions.
- Remote work will not be a disadvantage. Our new normal will include the option to connect by video or audio whenever practical. We want this to be an inclusive option that ensures that those who prefer or need to work remotely will not be disadvantaged in any way, shape, or form while we continue to navigate the return to work and our new normal. Your work is too important to live with FOMO or fear any disadvantage by not being at the office. We ask you to continue doing great work that you have been doing throughout the pandemic. In return, your work will be evaluated by your results, not where you get it done.
- We know that we do not have all the answers – yet. But we will be flexible and adapt together. We ask you to recognize that each of us have different roles and responsibilities. Some folks will need to be in the office on a regular basis because of their responsibilities, particularly our senior leaders. Others may not need to be in the office on a regular basis or schedule. We anticipate most will fall in the middle: you are welcome to work from home, office, or on the road, but will need to work with your manager to make sure the arrangement meets the team’s needs and your responsibilities. Our post- Labor Day plans are version 1.0 of how we will work in the future. We will listen and quickly evolve our new work.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER LABOR DAY?
After the Labor Day holiday, we will begin to welcome our employees in the DMV area (including our E&E News colleagues) back to POLITICO HQ in Rosslyn. We plan to do the same for employees who work out of our state offices.
Starting on September 7th, POLITICO will begin operating under a new hybrid model. The benefit of a hybrid workplace enables us to draw upon the best aspects of remote work and in-person collaboration, providing increased flexibility for all POLITICOs moving forward. In the coming weeks, Traci Schweikert will provide more information and details about how our new hybrid workplace will look and operate. She and her team will work with senior leaders to ensure that all employees have the flexibility, tools, and guidance to do their jobs most effectively.
In the interim, some of our most senior leaders will begin utilizing the office during the summer months to prepare for a post-Labor day return to the office. For the past fifteen months, our offices have remained open for those who needed and/or chose to come in to do their job for a few hours. This remains the case today, and will throughout the summer. If you would like to utilize the office to meet with a colleague, you absolutely can. As outlined above, we will use CDC and state/local guidance as a North Star. As of today, CDC guidance is that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance, while those who have not been vaccinated should continue taking preventative measures including masking and distancing. While employees are not required to be vaccinated, we do STRONGLY encourage it so that everyone stays healthy and safe. Of course, we will make accommodations for those who have medical or religious reasons that prevent vaccination. I personally understand that the guidelines seem to be changing in an exceptionally rapid way, and that can be disorienting to say the least, but if you can, please, get the vaccine (or as my 14 year old calls it: the Fauci-Ouchie) as soon as you can.
FLEXIBILITY AND UNDERSTANDING
My motivation in writing today is to provide very high level guidance to allow you and your family as much flexibility as possible to make plans over the next several months and through the summer. I encourage you to make up for lost time with friends and family.
I expect that you will have plenty of questions. Please know that we are working through the operational details and complexities, and will share more specifics as we nail them down. Traci’s note in the coming weeks will be the first step in the process. That being said, in the interim please talk with your manager, department head, or H.R. business partner and raise any questions or concerns that you may have. Whatever your question, please do not worry—we will work through them together. The challenges and uncertainty wrought by the pandemic demands that we approach the first steps toward a return to the office with flexibility and understanding to your individual circumstances—please know that we are committed to both.
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
My hope is that we are turning the corner on what has been an extremely difficult fifteen months. We have been isolated, lost loved ones, and adapted together in the face of a global health crisis the likes of which have not been seen in over a century. Despite these challenges, POLITICO is thriving—from both a journalistic and business standpoint. You have rallied together around our indispensable journalism, found innovative and unique ways to serve our readers and clients, and not only hit our pre-pandemic goals, but leapt over them. You have made a great impact—from our coverage of the pandemic to a historic election, from the ugly post-election period to the terrifying insurrection at the Capitol Building. It continues today in our coverage of the new Administration and a Congress trying to make profound policy changes that will impact not just tens of millions of Americans, but millions more around the globe. Each of you has overcome unprecedented circumstances and stepped up in remarkable ways to serve our publication and each other. To put it simply, I am incredibly proud to be your publisher.
Let’s keep rallying around and supporting each other over these next few months.