News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson sent out the following to staff, including journalists at The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch.com:
You may well have seen the reports about the new lease agreement for our New York headquarters at 1211 Avenue of the Americas. That extension is of immediate relevance to our New York teams but it is also indicative of our global commitment to working together in the office. The pandemic demanded that we exercise caution in office use, but the easing of the crisis means that we must revive the company’s culture by taking advantage of shared spaces to develop our careers and enhance productivity and creativity.
We cherish that creativity and there is simply no way that true collective creativity can be consistently generated in not-so-splendid isolation. Screens deny us the subtleties of body language and the nuances of knowing glances. The spontaneity and serendipity of a dynamic office environment are crucial in creating and in iterating, so in-office attendance is vital to our future success. That presence is particularly important for the mentoring of employees, whose development of professional skills, whether the pithy sales pitch or the cultivation of contacts, is dependent on experience and exposure.
There are other professional learnings from the pandemic: there is some room for flexibility in the work environment, but that flexibility is not boundless; personal perceptions of productivity are not the same as actual productivity; and there are too many mundane meetings. We navigated the pandemic with some success, but the landscape has changed and we must necessarily adjust. The commute to work needs to be justified by a thriving office environment, not burdensome bureaucracy, and all thoughtful managers will ponder how to make the most of every moment.
What does this mean for 2023? I am asking the heads of our businesses to consult with their managers, and ultimately all of you, to ensure full compliance with in-office work schedules, so that what exists in theory happens in practice. Those schedules will evolve in coming weeks, but the net result must be that more people return more frequently to our offices. Attendance is an absolute imperative as collaboration and cooperation are priorities for each of our businesses.
I appreciate your professionalism, your patience and your perseverance as we take these necessary steps to ensure your development and our collective success.