ViacomCBS Eyes Return to Work After July 4 Holiday, Bob Bakish Says (EXCLUSIVE)

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Matt Donnelly
·4 min read
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Time to pry open the legendary gates of Paramount Pictures.

ViacomCBS leadership has set a tentative timeline for employees to return to the media giant’s numerous offices, though in limited capacity, as coronavirus vaccines continue to rollout across the country and around the world.

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In a Thursday memo from CEO Bob Bakish, the executive outlined plans to return as early as just after the upcoming July 4 holiday.

“Return to office dates will differ market by market based on local conditions, and may happen at different times in some international locations, but based on projections from current vaccination and infection rates, among other factors, we now anticipate that U.S. employees will have the option of returning to our offices starting after the July 4th weekend, at the earliest,” Bakish wrote.

Bakish underscored that the return would be “limited, optional and completely voluntary,” and under the strictest safety criteria, including ongoing COVID-19 testing, masking and social distance.

The conglomerate’s offices include the Paramount Pictures lot and the various New York-based studios and suites for its broadcast and cable divisions including CBS and MTV.

Read the full memo:

Team,

This month marks one year since most of us began working in unprecedented ways due to COVID-19, joining those on our international teams who were already being impacted by this pandemic. A majority of us have been working from home full-time, while many of you have had to reinvent your roles to ensure our productions continue safely, and our systems run smoothly.

I am so grateful for how this company has navigated through all of these changes. You have adjusted to the impacts of a historic merger while simultaneously dealing with the hardship of a global pandemic, including, for many, the devastating loss of loved ones and friends. You’ve united to overcome professional and personal challenges with resiliency, adaptability, agility and optimism. Thanks to your efforts, our business continues to thrive, as seen in the monumental launch of Paramount+ last week – a remarkable accomplishment especially given the circumstances.

In addition to making headway on our business goals, we’re also progressing in our return-to-office planning. We continue to closely monitor developments as conditions improve, and are working with medical experts to develop a comprehensive plan that prioritizes your health and safety. Return to office dates will differ market by market based on local conditions, and may happen at different times in some international locations, but based on projections from current vaccination and infection rates, among other factors, we now anticipate that U.S. employees will have the option of returning to our offices starting after the July 4th weekend, at the earliest.

This initial phase of our return – expected to last at least a few months – will be limited, optional and completely voluntary. We anticipate that we will continue to operate under strict safety criteria, including testing, mandatory mask wearing and social distancing.

Our current plan is to initially cap capacity in our buildings to maintain social distancing and manage elevator capacity; we will gradually increase capacity based on careful review of health metrics and our testing systems.

In the coming weeks, we will provide another update about the sign-up process and additional information.

This planning fits into our broader effort to evolve our workplace for the long term, including the transition for everyone to return in a hybrid, fully remote or fully onsite model of work after the phased-in voluntary period.

I know this past year has not been easy, and the current dynamics remain challenging for everyone. But, you continue to show up for one another during this difficult time, even while juggling the demands of work and home, including your responsibilities as parents, caregivers, partners and family members. Please remember to take time off to rest and recharge, and do your part to promote a culture of empathy, patience and flexibility.

I also encourage you to consult our resources to help manage your work-life balance. Today, I’m pleased to share our Guide to Sustaining Remote Work, where you’ll find tips and advice to navigate common challenges of working remotely, including how to address “Zoom Fatigue,” set healthy boundaries and advance your career and personal development. We’ll continue to share similar tools, and make them accessible on the ViacomCBS Brand and Resource Center.

Next month, we’ll be holding a BOB LIVE townhall to discuss all these updates (and more), and, as always, I look forward to this opportunity to hear from you and answer your questions. In the meantime, let’s continue to build off our momentum and be there for each other. You are doing an incredible job – it is really shining through – so thank you for all the time and energy you put into this company, our brands and our organization.

Best,
Bob

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