More than 2,300 Disney employees signed a petition last week claiming that the company's mandate to return to working in the office would "cause long-term harm," the Washington Post reported.
Employees urged Disney CEO Bob Iger to reconsider the mandate, which would require employees to return to the office four days a week starting in March.
The petition argued that ending employees' ability to work from home is "likely to have unintended consequences that cause long-term harm to the company."
The signees include staff from ABC, 20th Century Studios, Marvel Studios, Hulu, Pixar, FX, and other Disney-owned businesses that employ more than 200,000 people. Of the employees who signed the petition, 400 were parents, while others described themselves as having disabilities or conditions such as attention deficit, autism, or dyslexia.
Just last week, the company announced that it plans to lay off 7,000 employees in an effort to make its streaming service, Disney+, profitable.
"Flexibility at Disney really felt like a fresh start," the petition stated. "Now it feels like we're moving backwards."
"I think everyone has adjusted really well to the flexibility at Disney that was rolled out during the pandemic," a Disney employee who asked to remain anonymous told the Post. "For that to all go away suddenly was really scary for a lot of people."
Last month, when the mandate was announced, Iger argued that the policy would benefit Disney's "creativity, culture, and our employees' careers."
Workers claimed that the updated policy would lead to "forced resignations among some of our most hard-to-replace talent and vulnerable communities," allegedly "dramatically reducing productivity, output, and efficiency."
The signees also argued that returning to the office would "slow, or even reverse, our post-COVID recovery and growth by creating critical resource shortages and causing irreplaceable institutional knowledge loss."
The petition urged Iger to continue to allow staff to work from home if they choose. Employees also requested that the company invest in hosting more networking, training, and town hall events.
"Sitting on Zoom calls in an office for four days a week while your co-workers, partners, stakeholders, vendors, and customers do the same in a different part of the world does not meet the core need," the petition stated. "There is value in being together, but we also need to look forward and embrace new paradigms that add value."
Disney did not respond to a request for comment, the Post reported.
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