"While we were hopeful we’d be able to bring a small number of employees back to U.S. office locations beginning in August, due to recent spikes it’s clear this will not happen," ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish wrote in a memo to employees obtained by Deadline. "In fact, at this point, we are assuming the majority of employees will not be returning to U.S. offices this year."
Given the recent surge in coronavirus cases, Bakish said "having fewer people commuting and gathering is best" and that employees have "proven how well we can work remotely as an organization."
He also said the decision will allow the company to "continue to focus our time and resources on supporting our business-critical employees who need to work from facilities, as well as enabling our return to production – which generally has to be done in person and is the lifeblood of our business."
Despite the move, Bakish believes "getting back to production is critical" and said ViacomCBS will work with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and government organizations on industry-wide recommendations "as well as determining our internal process for planning and evaluating all ViacomCBS productions.”
A production task force has been put in place to ensure personal protective equipment and cleaning and disinfection services, validate safe travel and hotel resources, secure testing and health screening services, and to hire and vet COVID compliance consultants and vendors.
“In addition to the few productions that have returned domestically and internationally, all of our businesses have been working hard to develop highly detailed and thoughtful plans for each of their unique shows, events, features and series to get them back into production under these new safety protocols,” Bakish added.
A spokesperson for ViacomCBS did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment.
While there is no set date for the return of the majority of ViacomCBS' U.S. employees, Amazon announced it will extend its remote work policy through Jan. 8.
"We continue to prioritize the health of our employees and follow local government guidance," a spokesperson for Amazon told FOX Business. "We have invested significant funds and resources to keep those who choose to come to the office safe through physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and by providing face coverings and hand sanitizer."
The spokesperson added that Amazon employees are encouraged to continue to avoid nonessential travel.
ViacomCBS and Amazon are the latest companies to delay their employees' return to the office until 2021.
Other companies that have decided to push back their employees' return to the office until 2021 include Visa, Google and Shopify, while Ford said it would let employees work from home until at least the end of the year. In addition, Facebook, Twitter and Slack have all considered making remote work a permanent option for their employees.
According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 3.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases, more than 1 million people who have recovered and more than 136,000 deaths in the United States.