Patagonia and Nasdaq CEOs on how to ‘reopen’

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Runner Mary Cain has a new sponsorship—and job, the women who run Scotland and Northern Ireland object to Boris Johnson’s plan to emerge from lockdown, and two CEOs weigh in on reopening. Have a wonderful Wednesday. 

– ‘Reopening’ x 2. Two CEOs, from two very different industries, weighed in yesterday on what ‘reopening’ from coronavirus lockdowns will mean for their companies.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman says her staff’s return to the physical workplace will be voluntary for the foreseeable future. She made that determination after an employee survey found that the vast majority of workers want to keep working from home as they evaluate the wider world’s virus recovery.

When workers do return to the office, they may be subject to temperature tests, sit in spaced-out desk arrangements, and have to wear masks.

She acknowledged that her industry is privileged to be able to work remotely. “We have the luxury of patience,” she said. “[W]e have the ability to work from home very effectively.”

Generally speaking, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario doesn’t have that luxury with a workforce scattered across retail stores and warehouses. The outdoor apparel and equipment company has been hit hard by coronavirus shutdowns, with North American sales plunging 50% since it temporarily closed its 39 stores and e-commerce business there on March 13; it was one of the first major retailers to do so.

Patagonia resumed online orders on April 9 once it had revamped its Reno, Nev., distribution center. Workers wear gloves and face coverings, they stand 30 feet apart, the cafe is closed, shared refrigerators are off-limits, and overall staffing is at 50%.

Even with the pressure of slumping sales and few remote working options, Marcario told The New York Times Patagonia is not hurrying to reopen physical stores like retail peers Macy’s and Gap Inc. In fact, the company is not expecting to open retail locations for in-store shopping until June at the earliest. It may not even happen until the fall or early winter.

Patagonia has established itself as a progressive force in Corporate America in recent years, particularly in regards to climate change. It’s also certified as a B corp, meaning it’s required to consider the interests of “workers, the community, and the environment” in addition to shareholders. 

That first stakeholder—employees—is top-of-mind for Marcario who says the company may eschew state decrees to reopen.

“We were one of the first to shut down, we might be closer to the last to reopen fully—I don’t really care,” Marcario said. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that our employees are taken care of in the best way possible and we’ll make those decisions as we come to them.”

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe

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