Penguin Random House UK is expecting all London office-based staff to work from home from Tuesday (17th March) and cancelling all events, including bookshop events, Penguin Live, launch parties and "any meetings".
PRH UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon sent an email to all Penguin Random House UK staff on Monday (16th March) outlining the move for all London office-based colleagues to work from home from tomorrow. This followed a "successful" remote-working test on Friday last week despite the presence of some issues such as the distribution of loan laptops and ensuring access to large files. The only exception to the instruction to work from home will be employees who are working on Business Continuity Planning.
Those based outside London will be expected to follow suit shortly after Wednesday (18th March) when another remote working test will be carried out. Meanwhile "extra steps" will be taken to ensure warehouse-based staff, whose roles mean that working remotely is not an option, are in a safe environment and "protected to the very best of [PRH's] ability". This includes the introduction of a separation between shifts and "stepping up" deep cleaning.
On the events-side, Weldon said PRH UK had made "the very difficult decision" to cancel all planned events from Tuesday (17th March) – including its annual company showcase, Penguin Presents – and publishers would need to "be imaginative and creative" in the interim.
All measures also apply to DK, a spokesperson confirmed.
"This has come after much deliberation because so much of our business depends on these moments and gatherings," said Weldon. "However, we believe this is the responsible thing to do. We will need to be imaginative and creative about how to develop clever solutions to promote our authors and their books."
He added: "We have also made the decision to postpone Penguin Presents. I very much hope that we will be able to host it later in the year when we will appreciate a company-wide gathering more than ever."
Weldon struck a similar chord to Markus Dohle last week, acknowledging social distancing may be especially "challenging" for an industry where so much is about relationships and connection. "Each team will need to find its own way to stay connected and I promise to be in touch with all of you regularly," said Weldon. Similar to the US, which developed a virtual hang-out on Facebook, PRH UK staffers will have "Roost" from the end of Monday (16th March), "the place where we upload our latest guidance and we’ll also be setting up ways for us to gather virtually as a community".
Weldon said: "Many of us have navigated issues and crises at work but never of this magnitude. I know that you will do what you can to help and support one another and take responsible action to reduce the risk to others. While doing so, please be sure to protect your own mental and physical wellbeing ...
"This is a testing time but I often think that it is in these moments that people, communities and companies are at their best. I know that our company is strong and rest assured that we will do everything we can to support our colleagues, authors and partners in the book industry.
"Thank you in advance for your patience, commitment and creativity in ensuring that we keep focused on getting our books into the hands of readers; there has never been a more significant time to share the power of reading. And take care of yourself and your family and friends; nothing is more important right now."
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