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AT&T tells its gigantic workforce, including WarnerMedia, to work from home

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Retail employees, installers, and CNN’s TV staff are still expected to show up

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

AT&T is the latest enormous company to instruct its employees to start working from home if they haven’t already. The work-from-home edict does not apply to AT&T’s retail employees, equipment installers, and CNN’s TV talent and production staff, according to CNN. But AT&T’s massive corporate workforce (including those at WarnerMedia) are being asked to work from home for the time being — as long as their role allows for it.

“We are committed to helping limit the spread of the virus and risk of exposure,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said in an internal memo. “We can help minimize stress on the resources and infrastructures around us by doing our part to reduce population density in our commutes and daily activities, in efforts to help reduce spread of the virus.” AT&T has over 245,000 employees, according to CNN.

It now joins other large companies in shifting to at-home work as health officials and cities encourage social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. “In support of our colleagues who need to continue working in our offices, we need to help reduce population density and risk of exposure in those locations by minimizing the on-site staff,” Stankey said.

CNN boss Jeff Zucker said it’s “unclear” how long this guidance will remain in effect in a memo to employees, but said everyone should “assume that it may be long term.” “We encourage you to use today to make sure you are completely prepared for remote working,” Zucker said.

There’s no avoiding office work for many roles at CNN, however, just as AT&T’s wireless employees will still need to keep the company’s stores operating smoothly. CEO Randall Stephenson said AT&T is taking precautions to help workers stay safe in the days and weeks ahead if they do need to leave home.

“I realize that many of you are directly serving and interacting with our customers and that work can’t be done from home,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a message that went out to employees. “What you do is vital to a highly connected society like ours. And it is even more critical in times like these. So, we will be taking additional safeguards and implementing new procedures and policies to help protect you from the virus.”

AT&T has suspended its arbitrary broadband caps (for customers subject to them) in response to the coronavirus pandemic and has also signed onto the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” vowing not to disconnect subscribers or hit them with late fees as everyone makes the necessary life changes to do their part in combating the virus.