Disney Remote Workers Pen Open Letter to Bob Iger, Beg Not to Return to Office

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Bob Iger wearing a suit and tie

Credit: Disney

On January 9, the recently-returned CEO Bob Iger shocked hybrid Disney Cast Members when he announced that he would force them to return to the office four days a week. Remote workers were furious, some calling Iger an “out of touch old white man” for his demand that employees work in person.

Related: Good Disney Park News a Coverup For Cast Member Mistreatment, Employees Allege

A month later, Iger announced that The Walt Disney Company would cut 7,000 jobs to save millions of dollars and appease angry shareholders. In the wake of this announcement, hybrid workers penned an open letter to Iger begging him to reconsider the decision to force already-stressed and overworked Cast Members back into the office.

A woman in a lime green PhotoPass costume poses with her camera in front of the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

u/TakeSomeFreeHoney shared the lengthy letter on the Disney Cast Member Subreddit. It outlines how the change harms Disney Cast Members and the perceived damage to The Walt Disney Company. Additionally, it proposes a compromise.

“While we agree with the logic that relationships are the heart of creativity, we also believe that this mandate fundamentally misses the mark in a number of ways,” the letter begins. “If implemented in its current form, without apparent awareness of how many of our workers support our large and diverse family of businesses and operations, this policy stands to damage the business itself, while harming the employees, and inflicting unnecessary damage to the environment by needlessly putting more vehicles on the road.”

The letter alleges that remote work allows worldwide employees to collaborate more effectively and that a strict office schedule “will dramatically harm availability, capacity, flexibility, and productivity by forcing our workers into rigid localized time boxes.”

Bob Iger with Cast Members
Credit: Robert Iger via Twitter

“Walt was always looking toward the future, and we must remain forward looking; embracing the empowerment and interpersonal connectivity that technology provides,” it reads.

It also outlines the impacts on employees: risk of COVID-19 infections, forcing long commutes after people moved to far-away housing, and no longer being able to drop off/pick up children from school or daycare. The employees argue that Iger isn’t considering the burden this places on Cast Members:

In addition to the pandemic, our workers have been made to feel disrespected, disregarded, and even deliberately harmed in a number of ways; from inhumane acts like forcibly relocating people’s jobs to Florida despite the ongoing political turmoil there, to ‘smaller’ compounding acts like the gradual whittling away of perks & benefits that once defined & enhanced the value & culture of working at Disney. This new policy adds to this trend by failing to address the significant new burdens that it unfairly places upon our people.

A white male Cast Member in a blue shirt smiles and waves as a Monorail passes by.
Screenshot via Annual Shareholders Meeting

Instead of forcing all Cast Members back to the office, the employees implore Iger to make in-person meeting spaces available but optional. They also argue that The Walt Disney Company should invest in more employee events and training on software that makes remote work easier.

“If our goal is to foster relationships, and to use those relationships to foster creativity and team building, we must make gatherings special and flexible while making sure our people also know what tools are available to make the distances between us inconsequential,” they write.

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger in front of Cinderella Castle

The letter concludes:

Disney’s greatest asset is its passionate, visionary, brilliant people, and our continued success hinges on respect for, and empowerment of, those very people. Please show us you are listening; we all want to restore the unique Disney culture of respect, passion, and empowerment.

Bob, please rethink this well-meaning but hurtful, harmful policy.

The Walt Disney Company CEO, Bob Iger, has not responded publicly to this open letter from remote Cast Members.

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