Niles: Disney’s Move To Florida Is So 2019 – San Bernardino County Sun

Disney climbed to the top of the entertainment industry by making aggressive moves. Building Disneyland. Creating Walt Disney World. Buying ABC and ESPN, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel. Hollywood is no business for the timid. But Disney’s latest move seems especially audacious.

It’s one thing to ask employees to come back to the office after working at home for more than a year due to the pandemic. But it takes some nerve to demand that employees not only come back to the office but move to a new one across the country, too.

Sign up for our Park Life newsletter and find out what’s new and interesting every week at Southern California’s theme parks. Subscribe here.

That’s what Disney is doing in moving about 2,000 administrative and creative jobs in its theme park division from various locations around Southern California to a new regional campus in the Orlando area over the next 18 months. Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro justified the move by saying it would drive “further collaboration and creativity and allowing us to better integrate our business and functional teams.”

While the move brings a bunch of managers and Imagineers closer to Disney’s sprawling Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line headquarters in Florida, it also moves them a continent away from the rest of The Walt Disney Company’s management, as well as Disney’s film and animation studios that provide so much of the intellectual property for Disney’s theme parks. So remote meetings and travel will continue to be a regular part of working for many affected employees.

Disney also cited “Florida’s business-friendly climate,” which basically means “no state income taxes.” Florida also reportedly has offered Disney other tax incentives to relocate the jobs. It remains to be seen how many affected cast members will take Disney’s offer to move and how many will choose to leave the company and remain in California.

What a 2019 choice to have to make. The past year has shown millions of workers that it is possible to do a job efficiently and effectively without physically going into an office. But many corporate managers are refusing to acknowledge that lesson and are insisting that workers return in person.

Obviously, people running the attractions, shows, restaurants and shops in Disney’s theme parks must work on site. It’s also helpful for their managers to get out into the parks to see their cast members and guests on a daily basis. But Disney isn’t moving 2,000 positions to Walt Disney World. It’s moving them to a corporate campus 20 miles east of the resort, near the Orlando International Airport.

Moving much of Walt Disney Imagineering from the heart of the entertainment industry in racially and culturally diverse Southern California to an office park in a much less diverse exurban Orlando community does not seem to support the company’s initiative to make its attractions more culturally inclusive, either.

If Disney executives want to lower their personal tax bills by moving to Florida, fine. But does everyone working under them on the organizational chart — many who have been working remotely for months — really need to follow them?