Florida CEO told staff to bring kids to office and continue work during Hurricane Ian: ‘We’ll make it super fun!’

The company backtracked after the message went viral, telling employees the office would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 28 September 2022 19:07 BST
Hurricane Ian makes landfall with warnings of 'unsurvivable' storm surges

A company in Florida asked its employees to bring their pets and children in to work, promising to make surviving Hurricane Ian at the office "super fun for the kids!"

VICE News reported on Wednesday that the CEO of Postcardmania, a postcard marketing company, downplayed the threat posed by the Category 4 hurricane and asked employees to come shelter in their offices while they continue to work.

The company's headquarters is in Clearwater, Florida, which declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and which sits in a county that has already begun issuing evacuation orders.

The storm — which has already left the entire nation of Cuba without electricity — is expected to make landfall on Wednesday. Meteorologists expect 155 mph (249kph) winds and for the storm to be the strongest to hit the Tampa area in a century.

According to internal communications obtained by Labor Notes' Jonah Furman, Postcardmania's CEO Joy Gendusa isn't convinced.

“If you want to leave your home and you’re being told to leave your home, and you feel like you should and you have no place to go, PCM [Postcardmania] is probably the safest place to be in Florida,” Ms Gendusa told employees during a Monday Zoom call, per VICE News, who reviewed a copy of the call's minutes. “Anyway, bring your pets, bring your kids, bring everybody to PCM.”

Ms Gendusa went on to tell her employees that "obviously you feeling safe and comfortable is of the utmost importance," but that "I honestly want to continue to deliver and I want to have a good end of quarter."

“And when [the hurricane] turns into nothing, I don’t want it to be like, ‘Great, we all stopped producing because of the media and the maybe that it was going to be terrible,’” she said.

Outside of the Zoom call, workers also were went a text asking them to come in so the company could continue to provide for clients outside of Florida.

“PCM was built to withstand Cat[egory] 5 winds. We would like to continue to service our National clients if we can. Bring your kids to work on Tues and Wed this week,” the text said. “There is always more hype in the media than any storm that has ever hit here…bring your pets if you feel teh [sic] need. I doubt in the end you will really need to. We are not closing, we are working. We’ll make it super fun for the kids!”

VICE News contacted the company's public relations officials, who said that the company's offices were closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We have some employees voluntarily working remote who are safely located in non-evacuation zones," the PR representative told VICE. "Our building is open as a shelter during the hurricane for staff, friends, children and pets. We did this during Irma as well.”

However, that explanation is not congruent with Ms Gendusa saying she wanted to "continue to deliver," that she wanted to "continue to service our national clients" and that "we are not closing, we are working."

That inconsistency was answered on Tuesday afternoon, when Postcardmania sent out a follow=up message to employees saying the company would close on Wednesday and Thursday with hopes "to reopen our offices on Friday."

An employee speaking anonymously to VICE for fear of retribution said they were under the impression that they would have to work whether they were in the office or not, and that the messaging did not change "until that post went viral."

Employees also told the outlet that, despite the closures, they are expected to make their 40 hours this week by working through the weekend beginning on Friday.

The Independent has reached out to the company for comment.

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