NBCUniversal and Amazon are recommending their employees to work from home, effective immediately, to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In Thursday communications to staff, the conglomerates observed rapidly escalating closures of businesses, select film festivals, live events and other highly-trafficked scenarios where the disease might spread. All of Amazon’s corporate offices, including Culver City-based Amazon Studios, are recommended to work from home through March 30. Any NBCUniversal employee who can work from home should do so, directives said according to numerous sources.
“This is not the first companywide note I envisioned sending to you,” admitted newly-minted NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in a memo obtained by Variety, adding that his “top priority, and that of our entire management team, is the health and safety of our employees.”
NBCU “strongly encourages all employees globally to begin working remotely if possible, effective immediately. By now all groups should have tested their work-from-home capabilities and should be prepared for this step,” the memo continued.
At Amazon, executives arrived for morning meetings and began dispersing around lunch, not just in their content sector but across coasts and divisions, said three other insiders.
“We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve. As a result, we are now recommending that all of our employees globally who are able to work from home do so through the end of March,” an Amazon spokesperson told Variety.
The major talent agencies — CAA, UTA, WME and ICM — have closed offices effectively immediately and are similarly testing systems to service clients from home.
Read the full Shell memo:
This is not the first companywide note I envisioned sending to you. During my first three months in this job, I have been amazed by the breadth of this company’s content and expertise, as well as by the many talented employees who are responsible for our success. I had planned to reach out and discuss my thoughts and outlook on the business soon, but today I want to personally address the COVID-19 situation and let you know how we are dealing with it.
I want to begin by assuring you that my top priority, and that of our entire management team, is the health and safety of our employees. NBCUniversal is being guided by an experienced team of medical and crisis management experts who are in constant communication with government officials. My direction to that group is to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to give you the safest possible working environment and the tools you need to do your job, manage your life, and keep you and your family safe. Please use good judgment as you make your own daily decisions and please let’s make sure we are all taking care of each other.
While we are focused first and foremost on staying healthy and safe, we also remain committed to maintaining business operations. To that end, we have put in place new policies and procedures that will allow us to continue to run the business in a responsible manner while at the same time helping to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Our company is composed of a diverse set of businesses with different needs operating in different geographies. As a result, it is impossible to give uniform guidance across the board. For instance, employees in theme parks, national and local news productions, film and entertainment TV production, sports, on-air operations and other select areas may not be in a position to work from home or avoid travel. We understand that and you should continue to take guidance from your business and HR leaders about how specific policies are being implemented for your business. Most of you, however, should follow the below policies until further notice:
Work Remotely – The company strongly encourages all employees globally to begin working remotely if possible, effective immediately. By now all groups should have tested their work-from-home capabilities and should be prepared for this step. Please speak to your manager about specific arrangements and click here for remote access tips. For those who cannot work remotely, our offices will remain open and we will continue to clean and disinfect work areas and have medical staff on the premises. If you have a job that requires you to be present in the office and you are concerned, please contact your HR manager.
Avoid Large Gatherings – Employees should limit large gatherings. Please do not have in-person meetings unless it is absolutely necessary, and in that case limit the number of people as much as possible. Please avoid large gatherings in your personal life as well. Do not have outside visitors come to the office.
Cease All Non-Essential Business Travel – With the exception of the areas referenced earlier in the note, all non-essential business travel both domestic and international should cease. Essential travel outside those groups must now be approved by Adam Miller, Anand Kini or Kim Harris prior to booking.
Be Smart About Personal Travel – Please do not visit countries and areas where COVID-19 has a significant presence. Anyone who does choose to travel outside their home country must report that information to their HR leader, and for those still reporting to work, we will assess whether a 14-day home quarantine is necessary upon your return.
Taking these steps is the best way to keep us all safe and healthy and I appreciate your support.
I also want to say thank you for your commitment during this difficult time. I recognize that there are other significant effects of COVID-19, such as school closures or caring for a relative that may have an impact on your daily life, and I want to personally commit to you that we will be understanding, flexible and supportive and in every instance we will strive to do the right thing.
Lastly, please know that our company is strong and resilient. This situation will pass and NBCUniversal and Comcast will continue to grow and excel. We could not be better positioned strategically and financially. We have the strongest balance sheet in the media industry, and we’re fortunate to be in a lot of businesses that are built to withstand crises like this one and continue to flourish.
Thank you for your cooperation. We will keep you updated, and I look forward to sharing broader views on the business at some point soon.