Washingtonian Staff Refuses to Publish After CEO's Op-Ed About Remote Work

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A Washington Post op-ed about remote work by Washingtonian’s CEO prompted a publishing strike by the magazine’s staff.

Cathy Merrill indicated working in the office has more value than working from home.

“If the employee is rarely around to participate in those extras, management has a strong incentive to change their status to ‘contractor.’ Instead of receiving a set salary, contractors are paid only for the work they do,” Merill wrote in THursday's op-ed.

That concept did not sit well with her staff — most of whom are working from home.

One of her top editors said in a tweet, “We are dismayed by Cathy Merrill’s threat to our livelihoods. We will not be publishing today.”

Many staffers retweeted the message.

The response was so negative, Merrill issued a statement, which reads, in part, “I have assured our team that there will be no changes to benefits or employee status. I am sorry if the op-ed made it appear like anything else.”

The back-to-work conversation has been going on for months.

“There are some companies that want their employee’s back,” D.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Angela Franco said. “There are some that have learned by having people work from home their business model works, so it is really an individual decision.”

“We want people back into the office,” Franco added. “That is what is going to help downtown D.C., you know, recover and a lot of our small businesses recover.”

Franco said many businesses are discussing hybrid models that will give employees options and a requirement they be vaccinated.

Chamber of Commerce office manager Jennifer Coleman said she works more when she works from home.

“I think one of the advantages for the employers is they are finding more productivity out of their employees,” she said. “There is no lunch hour, right? You eat when you want to, right? You dress when you want to. If you have a Zoom meeting, what do you do, right? You put on a shirt.”

The original headline in the Post op-ed referenced Merrill's employees and said she wanted them to understand the risks of not returning to the office. It was later changed to say she worries about the erosion office culture with more remote work.

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