Albany Newspaper Guild reps toured the main office on Albany Shaker Road Thursday with Dan Couto, vice president of operations, to see how the deep cleaning has gone to prepare for going back inside.
Renee Bernard, Jeff Boyer and Ken Crowe formed the Guild team that did the hour-long walk through.
Renee and Jeff have been working inside throughout the coronavirus pandemic. They had insights into the cleaning as they’ve observed as it occurred over the last several months.
The company doesn’t have a firm date for when the first group of Guild-represented employees would return. It appears the earliest it might happen is after Labor Day for the Copy Desk to train on a new editorial system.
Couto pointed out the new signs that will direct people wear to walk; the limits of two people inside a bathroom; the six-foot social distancing between desks; the limit of one person in the elevator and that the stairs at the rear of editorial and by the Hearst Media Center entrance will be for going upstairs only. You will go downstairs by using the stairs near the main entrance. You will be able to exit the building through the lobby.
The company has installed new filters in the HVAC system that meet the standards NYS set for malls to have to reopen.
About half of the desks throughout the building cannot be used. There will overflow space for editorial employees in the business office and for advertising employees in the recruitment office.
Managers who have offices will move into their offices.
The coffee makers and microwave ovens remain in the break rooms. Toasters and toaster ovens have been removed.
Seating at conference tables has been limited.
The company is planning to hand out kits — sort of a welcome back gift — with masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer.
As part of the return, Hearst has launched a companywide Smartphone App which will be used to report your COVID-19 status. The Guild has informed Publisher George Hearst it doesn’t oppose the App but has reserved its legal rights and submitted detailed questions regarding the equipment’s use.
You can see the App on MyHearst.com.