Each ViacomCBS office around the world will be re-opening on varying schedules based on what’s best for protecting the health and safety of workers.
In Asia, employees in China began returning to their offices earlier this month. Hong Kong employees returned to work on Monday, April 20. Workplaces in Japan and the Philippines will be closed at least through the end of April, while Singapore is enduring its second shutdown and its offices will remain closed at least until May 4.
The reopenings in China have been staggered, with no more than half of employees in any given location permitted back in the office at any one time. Within the office, only one person is allowed in the pantry. Group lunches, a staple of the Beijing work day, are no longer allowed. “The sense of sitting together and having a meal is important in Asia,” said Singh.
Employees who have returned to the office recalled life under lockdown and drew a picture of the unfamiliar world they emerged into. Crystal Wang, legal counsel for Greater China, spent the lockdown with her family outside of Beijing and had to quarantine for 14 days upon return. She then had to scan a QR code indicating that she hadn’t left the city for two weeks, and a “community committee” issued her a certificate that allowed her to leave her apartment. Limited stores and restaurants are open in Beijing, she said, but large events like concerts and events at stadium sports have yet to resume.
With uncertainty still prevalent, employees are allowed to work remotely at any time if they feel like it.
“There is a sense of concern that this is not over yet,” said Singh. “We’ve given flexibility to our colleagues to say that, look, you know, if you’re living with young kids or elderly folks who are more vulnerable, or if you are sharing an apartment with someone that’s traveled from overseas, or from another province, we are happy with the flexibility of them staying and working from home.”
Most ViacomCBS employees around the world will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
“I know we all want our regular work world to return, complete with open buildings,” said ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish at a recent company-wide virtual town hall event. “But due to the severity of the threat, our work-from-home and travel policies will remain in effect until it’s safe to make changes.”