Workforce Wire

Coronavirus reopening: How companies including Disney, CNN and Goldman Sachs are bringing workers back

An empty road leads into a deserted Disney resort after it was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kissimmee, Florida on May 5, 2020.
Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images

Now that all 50 states have at least partially reopened, it's clear that the new normal is far from ordinary. As each state plans to jump start various sectors of the economy, many companies are deciding when, how and if workers should come back. From procedural temperature checks to enforced use of masks, new cleaning procedures and social distancing in the office, this live blog is a look at how some of the world's largest companies are preparing their workforces to return.

Slack becomes the latest San Francisco tech company to embrace permanent work from home

  • In a company issued tweet, San Francisco-based Slack announced Friday that it will allow employees the option to permanently work from home, following the lead of other Bay area tech giants like Twitter and Square.

Slack tweet

  • "Slack is going to become a much more distributed company," said Robby Kwok, Slack's senior vice president of people, in a blog post that accompanied the tweet. "That means most employees will have the option to work remotely on a permanent basis if they choose, and we will begin to increasingly hire employees who are permanently remote."
  • Kwok noted that while the decision will impact the company's in-office network contractors and vendors, Slack will continue to pay those individuals through the end of the year.

Disney to start reopening its Florida theme parks, workers to wear masks, receive temperature checks

  • Disney proposed a phased reopening of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11; Epcot and Hollywood Studios would reopen on July 15.
  • Disney "cast members," as well as guests 3 years of age and older, will be required to wear appropriate face coverings in theme parks and common areas of resort hotels. Cast members will also undergo temperature checks.
  • Disney's Florida parks will have additional hand washing stations, temperature checks and social distancing measures throughout, including at restaurants and lines for rides.The company is suspending parades and other events that would cause crowds to gather.
  • Disney's reopening plans were presented to Orange County's Economic Recovery Task Force, a panel of business and community leaders appointed by Mayor Jerry Demings. The Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that theme parks will need approval from the county before he will sign off on their reopening dates.

Most CNN employees will not return to office this year

  • CNN President Jeff Zucker has told employees that the majority of them would not return to the office this calendar year. 
  • According to a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Zucker wrote, "What happens after that is still a question mark, as well."
  • Approximately 15% of the CNN workforce are working in the office and a few more may return over the next few weeks.
  • Separately, Fox News Channel, which had originally planned a May 4 office return date, is now targeting June 15 for a return.

Goldman is bringing traders back to offices in New York and London in the 'next several weeks'

  • Goldman Sachs is planning on having some of its traders and other markets personnel return to offices in the U.S. and London in the next few weeks, executive John Waldron said Wednesday at an investor conference.
  • Goldman sent New York-area employees home in March as lockdowns began in the U.S. Now, some of the 98% of bank employees working from home will begin to return to the company's offices in Manhattan, New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • Waldron said that the firm has already set its return-to-work plan in motion overseas with the goal of "approximately 50% of our people working in our offices in Hong Kong, China and Korea, and approximately 10% in our offices across continental Europe."
  • Waldron didn't specify a percentage of employees expected to return in the U.S., but the figure likely won't climb above 50% in the near future as social distancing rules will still be in effect.

Historic NYSE floor reopens to select group of traders, with new safety measures in place

  • The New York Stock Exchange is reopening its historic trading floor today for the first time since shutting down on March 23. 
  • The floor will be open at 25% of usual capacity and temperature checks will be required of those entering the building. Additionally, social distancing measures will be enforced and face masks will be required.
  • NYSE chief operating officer Michael Blaugrund has said that no one is allowed to take public transportation, such as the MTA, to get to the exchange building, in compliance with Governor Cuomo's PAUSE order. 
The New York Stock Exchange partially reopens trading floor after two months of closure due to coronavirus
The NYSE partially reopens trading floor after closure due to coronavirus

Facebook says 50% of company employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts that 50% of the company's employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years.
  • Additionally, Zuckerberg said in a live stream with employees last week that Facebook is going to "aggressively" ramp up its hiring of remote workers, and the company is going to take a "measured approach" to opening up permanent remote work positions for existing employees.
  • Zuckerberg also said Facebook will begin allowing certain employees to work remotely full time, but that those employees will have to notify the company if they move to a different location by Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Employees may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations. "We'll adjust salary to your location at that point," said Zuckerberg, citing that this is necessary for taxes and accounting. "There'll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this."

Mastercard allows employees to work from home until virus fears subside

  • Mastercard said it would allow its employees to continue to work from home until their fears of contracting Covid-19 subside. The company employs nearly 20,000 people globally.
  • The payments processor also said it was re-examining its office footprint and is considering consolidation.
  • When the situation stabilizes, companies around the world may find that their offices are only about 30% full, chief people officer Michael Fraccaro told Reuters.

Tesla returns to "normal operations" at US car and battery factories

  • In a memo obtained by CNBC's Lora Kolodny late last week, Tesla HR told production employees that the company is returning to "normal operations," and has resumed its regular attendance policy.
  • The company is giving employees the option to take unpaid leave until May 31, with HR approval, if they are worried about exposing a household member to Covid-19. 
  • Tesla suspended operations at its car plant in Fremont, California, as of March 24, but had resumed production there the weekend of May 9 in defiance of earlier local health orders.

Shopify CEO embraces remote work until 2021, calling an end to "office centricity" via tweet

  • Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke tweeted last week that the company plans to keep its offices largely closed for the remainder of the year, adding that the Canadian e-commerce giant will allow its 5,000 employees to work from home indefinitely. Beginning next year, Shopify offices will be limited to 20-25% capacity.
  • Lutke said the company is now "digital by default," and will be re-designing its space accordingly as its workforce adjusts to a remote work environment. 

Tobi Lutke tweet

  • "COVID is challenging us all to work together in new ways," Lutke said in a Twitter thread. "We choose to jump in the driver's seat, instead of being passengers to the changes ahead. We cannot go back to the way things were. This isn't a choice; this is the future."

Jerry Jones and select group of employees return to Dallas Cowboys' offices

  • Dallas Cowboys' executive offices in Frisco, Texas, otherwise known as "The Star," reopened last week after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell allowed club employees around the league to return to facilities in accordance with state and local guidelines.
  • According to the Dallas Morning News, members of the Jones family, along with a limited group of other employees, returned to the office. Another larger group of workers will return this week.
  • Everyone who returned last week was required to wear a mask in open spaces, but not in spaces where they were alone, such as an office with a door that could be closed. "We'll do it the right way," Jones said.

Dorsey institutes permanent work from home policy for Twitter and Square employees

  • On May 12, Twitter became the first major company to announce it would allow its employees to work from home (WFH) indefinitely. The announcement came exactly two months after the the company first ordered its employees to begin working remotely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The company said with very few exceptions, offices won't open before September. It added when they do open it will be "careful, intentional, office by office and gradual." It said there will also be no business travel before September "with very few exceptions" and no in-person company events for the rest of 2020. 
  • Dorsey made a similar announcement for the employees at Square, which is also led by the billionaire.
  • Dorsey has long advocated for remote work. At one point last year, the CEO announced he would live in Africa for up to half of 2020 and continue running the two companies from another continent.

Shanghai Disneyland reopens for the first time since January, mandating masks and social distancing measures

  • Earlier this month, Shanghai Disneyland reopened for the first time since January after the coronavirus pandemic brought the Magic Kingdom to a standstill. Disney's $5.5 billion China flagship is the first of its six resorts around the world to reopen, serving as a blueprint for those yet to do so.
  • Only a limited number of guests were permitted in the park, about 30% of its daily capacity, or 24,000 visitors a day, CNBC's Eunice Yoon reported.
  • Disney shut interactive children's play areas, indoor live theater shows, and cancelled parades and fireworks, replacing the latter with an evening light projection show. Still, the vast majority of its rides, as well as most of its restaurants and shows, were reopened.
Shanghai Disneyland reopens at 30% capacity after three-month closure
Shanghai Disneyland reopens at 30% capacity after three-month closure

Nationwide announces a permanent transition to hybrid working model, allowing most to work from home indefinitely

  • At the end of April, Nationwide announced a permanent transition to a hybrid work model. The insurance company will operate in four main corporate offices in central Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Scottsdale, Arizona; and San Antonio, while the majority of employees will continue working from home.
  • "We've been investing in our technological capabilities for years, and those investments really paid off when we needed to transition quickly to a 98% work-from-home model," Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker said in a statement. "Our associates and our technology team have proven to us that we can serve our members and partners with extraordinary care with a large portion of our team working from home."
  • Nationwide plans on exiting all other locations by Nov. 1, 2020. 

Barclays CEO says crowded corporate offices with thousands of employees are "a thing of the past"

  • Barclays CEO Jes Staley says that putting thousands of workers in a corporate office building may never happen again. "There will be a long-term adjustment in how we think about our location strategy ... the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past," he said in public comments after the company's Q1 earnings report.
  • Staley said that many investment bankers could instead work from branches and other locations, adding that social distancing rules will ultimately limit how many can return at a given time. As a result, the CEO also suggested certain restrictions like limiting elevator capacity to two people at a time.
  • Additionally, Staley said that Barclays plans to reopen its Hong Kong office first, followed by Singapore, Tokyo and various European hubs.

Food giant Mondelez rethinks where people work, makes global adjustments to the number of physical offices

  • CEO Dirk Van De Put of food giant Mondelez said the company is making adjustments that will make it easier for the company in a recession, including a rethink of where people work.
  • "Maybe we don't need all the offices that we currently have around the world. So there is a major effort going, taking place as it relates to the costs in the business," the Mondelez CEO said during its recent Q1 earnings call.

Read CNBC's coverage of workforces impacted by the shutdown here: Here's how every major company has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic