[Updated on Sept. 23 with additional information.]
Thanks to two sources, here’s the email Marcum CEO, Chairman, and Going Concern bestie Jeffrey Weiner sent to employees on Sept. 14 about expectations for returning to the office:
Stay-at-home orders were put into effect in March as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most businesses and schools were immediately forced to close in states where most, if not all, of our associates live. As fate would have it, Marcum has been able to continue operating throughout the pandemic response because in most instances accounting services were deemed “critical infrastructure” by federal and state governments, with all our associates considered “essential” to performing those functions. With our IT infrastructure securely in place, we voluntarily closed the doors of our more than 30 offices across the country, transitioning to a remote workforce literally overnight. While initially we thought it would last only for a few weeks, here we are, more than six months later, with many of us still primarily working remotely. We’ve handled it well – continuing to service our clients, bill, collect, and keep our associates engaged – but we need to start getting back to the office setting wherever we can. As such, Marcum will officially resume in-office business operations, effective October 1, unless otherwise prohibited by local law.
The safety of our associates and your families continues to be our top priority, as it has been since the onset of the pandemic. We have been tracking COVID cases among our Marcum associates, many of which were cases where the associate hadn’t yet returned to a Marcum office. For those who had returned to an office at some point and then tested positive, we have not received any reported incidents of spreading. Thanks to everyone’s cooperation and commitment to acting responsibly, our return-to-office guidelines and Firm-issued safety measures have enabled each of our offices to reopen safely.
We have committed to our clients that our facilities will maintain safe, reliable and responsible operations, which requires a full complement of employees. As a result, Marcum is faced with the challenge of balancing ongoing operations with the needs of our associates, an unenviable position we share with the entire business community. As we deem we can bring our associates back to work safely and in compliance with government requirements, you will be expected to be back onsite in your local office on a full-time basis, or whatever basis reduced density permits, office-by-office.
Right now, with schools starting, albeit some live and some virtual, some parents who work at Marcum are facing different scenarios. We fully recognize that our associates who are also parents face challenging circumstances in managing their children’s education and childcare this fall, which means they have to make difficult decisions about balancing their family and job responsibilities, both of which require a commitment to operate at optimal levels. Marcum has always been and continues to be a strong proponent of flexibility.
For those unable to commit to a full return to the office, we offer many variations of Alternative Work Arrangements (AWAs), including full and partially remote options, built around core hours. Our AWAs include compressed workweeks, flexible schedules, part-time schedules, and telecommuting. About 20% of our workforce is already on some type of AWA and has been since before the COVID-19 pandemic. AWAs aren’t new to Marcum – but we are taking the opportunity to remind you that they are available to all associates, not just working parents. If you choose to convert your current work status to one of our AWAs, please consult your HR representative to determine whether your compensation arrangement may change as a result.
For those of you working in one of our metro offices (San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, etc.), we encourage you to take advantage of our core hours flexibility to plan a commute outside of peak demand or rush hour. “Flex” your day as you see fit. Our only ask of you is communication. Communicate with HR, communicate with your engagement partners, make sure your team knows where you are and what hours you are working.
For associates who are parents or caring for parents, we understand you may need additional time off to make arrangements for childcare or eldercare and to help your child/children transition to a new schedule. Please work with your local Human Resources representative to schedule PTO. Should you have an extraordinary circumstance, please let your immediate supervisor know, and then contact HR to discuss the potential for an unpaid leave of absence.
Getting back to the office is important, even if it isn’t on a full-time basis yet. We all need to re-engage, collaborate, feel like part of a team again. Many of us probably never realized how much we learn simply by working with others and being exposed to others’ conversations in the office – how a client call was handled, how a deal was closed, or how our colleagues interact with each other. We’re missing those implicit learning opportunities, those unexpected conversations in the hallway, and the mentoring that just isn’t as effective over WebEx or Zoom. These simple interactions are imbedded in Marcum’s culture.
We sincerely appreciate every associate’s dedication to Marcum and are willing to try and work through individual situations, while maintaining our focus on a safe and reliable return to in-person business operations. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have (and we’re sure there’ll be plenty of them) during our next scheduled CEO town hall meeting on September 18.
I think “plenty” is an understatement, Jeff.
[UPDATE] Those who attended the Marcum Sept. 18 town hall meeting told us there was a rip-roaring Q&A session about the return-to-work edict. One Marcum employee emailed us this as it was going on:
Here is an example of a question that was asked to Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Weiner regarding going back to the office, according to another source:
A question was asked, paraphrasing: “why are we going back, every other firm or company isnt going back? Jeff’s reply: “we cannot rest on our laurels.” Part two of question, paraphrasing: “if it has been productive working from home so far, why can’t we continue?” Jeff’s quote: “…If you want to succeed, it’s much better in an in-person environment.”
Followed by a statement that “if you don’t want to come back, that’s fine. We all have our own home issues we need to take care of, kids, family, etc. Let us know how many hours you can work, and if we can agree to that, we will work something out.”
Aka, if you can’t work a full week, tell us, and if we don’t agree, we have to let you go. Show up if you want to succeed.
So, Marcum faithful, show of hands: Who’s excited to be going back to the office next Thursday?