Hachette Book Group is “testing work-from-home capabilities today and tomorrow, asking each of our colleagues whose work can be done remotely to work from home on one of these two days.” More broadly, the company said, “Our first concern is the health and well-being of Hachette employees. Starting today, employees with concerns about being in an office environment, about commuting on crowded public transit, or other concerns that lead them to want to work from home, can talk with their managers to make arrangements.”
Simon & Schuster employees have been instructed to work from home this Friday as part of a “companywide work-from-home test” across ViacomCBS US staff. Ceo Bob Bakish said in a memo, “This will allow us to assess our remote access capabilities, ensure everyone has the technology they need to do their jobs remotely, and help us practice how we work together when we’re all out of the office at the same.” Bakish also wrote that “any employee in any location – in consultation with your manager and HR business partner – can work remotely if it’s an option and makes you feel more comfortable.”
In the UK, the headquarters building that Harper UK shares with other News Corp divisions has “implemented ongoing and more frequent deep cleaning” after an employee of the Times tested positive for COVID-19. A Harper UK spokesperson told the Bookseller, “This person has not been in the News Building since Monday 2nd March and the News UK team is currently contact tracing anyone who may have been in contact with them…. We have restricted non-essential business travel and reduced the number of face-to-face meetings in favor of telephone and videoconferencing, and are prepared for increased numbers of people working remotely if and when that becomes necessary.”
News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks told employees by email, “We are following advice from Public Health England and at this stage there is no need to ask any other employees to leave The News Building. We will constantly review this advice and take appropriate measures.”
On Thursday the Bologna Book Fair acknowledged the inevitable and cancelled their rescheduled show, which they had hoped to hold in early May. They say they “are working to recreate online the atmosphere and the business and networking opportunities that are so much part of our book fair,” with more details to come.
In other cancellations of note:
– The Whiting Awards cancelled their in-person ceremony and reading for March 25 and will announce their honorees live via video.
– The New York Public Library has suspended all public-facing programs beginning March 13, through at least the end of March.
– Glennon Doyle postponed all of the (mostly sold out) tour events for her just-released UNTAMED, “based on guidance provided by the CDC, local authorities and medical professionals.”
– The Australian Library and Information Association cancelled their national conference (scheduled for May 4-8). As did the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, CA (May 2-3), and the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Houston (March 24-27).