In late June, the N.F.L. brought back about 25 percent of its usual head count to its headquarters at Manhattan’s 345 Park Avenue, where about 800 people work. Workers at its offices in Culver City, Calif., and Laurel, N.J. have followed a different timetable. Now, league officials have laid the groundwork for a more complete employee return to Park Avenue, starting with those who have their own offices on Aug. 17 and followed by those who work from cubicles on Aug. 24. To maintain social distancing, no more than half of an office’s staff will be present on any day, with workers alternating days.
The return was announced July 31 in an email from Goodell making the case to get back to the office, particularly as players have been asked to report to training camp.
“As our teams and players gear up for the season, it is critical that we quickly ramp up our physical presence in the workplace too,” Goodell wrote in the email, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times.
In his response to the parent network on Thursday, the commissioner said that many employees have been coming into the office since late June and “have felt both safe and that our productivity has increased by being here.” He said that employees at the league’s satellite offices have also returned to the office “without incident.”
The tussle at the league’s headquarters comes as thousands of players from around the country return to their team facilities. The league and players union spent months negotiating ways to reduce the risk of infection to players, coaches and team personnel, approving plans that included reconfigured locker rooms, reduced travel schedules and extensive testing of all employees. Players were also allowed to skip the season without penalty. The season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10 with the Kansas City Chiefs playing at home against the Houston Texans.
Unlike the players, workers in the league’s headquarters, as well as on individual teams, are not unionized, so they have less leverage to negotiate work conditions. In that regard, the league’s efforts to accommodate its workers’ needs, particularly parents, mirrors challenges faced by many companies. The league is also aware of criticism that it does not treat women fairly, and has worked in recent years to increase the number of women in its headquarters and teams.
In May, the league furloughed employees who could not do their jobs from home, or those who had their work significantly reduced. The league also cut salaries for higher-paid employees, including Goodell.