Company Asked Employees to Bring Family, Pets to Office to Work Through Hurricane Ian

“We are not closing, We are working. We’ll make it super fun for the kids!”
A motorist travels near the Sarasota Bay waterfront as Hurricane Ian approaches on September 28, 2022 in Sarasota, Florida. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
A motorist travels near the Sarasota Bay waterfront as Hurricane Ian approaches on September 28, 2022 in Sarasota, Florida. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The CEO of a Florida-based company downplayed the Category 4 hurricane headed directly for the area in a meeting with employees, and even told them to bring their kids and pets to the office so they could bunker down together—and keep working.

Postcardmania, a postcard marketing company, has a 69,000-plus-square-foot main campus in Clearwater. Clearwater declared a state of emergency Tuesday, and Pinellas County began issuing evacuation orders Monday. Hurricane Ian could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Tampa area in more than 100 years


But in various communications to employees Monday, the company insisted that the media was overhyping Hurricane Ian—which is expected to make landfall in Florida Wednesday with 155 mph winds after leaving the entire nation of Cuba without power—and that employees were still expected to work through potential disaster, even if that meant bringing their families to the office.

“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,” CEO Joy Gendusa told employees during a Monday Zoom call, according to a copy of minutes from a staff meeting obtained by VICE News. “Anyway, bring your pets, bring your kids, bring everybody to PCM.”

“Obviously you feeling safe and comfortable is of the utmost importance, but I honestly want to continue to deliver and I want to have a good end of quarter,” Gendusa added. “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.’”

An automated text from the company sent to employees also said: “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 texts also included a message from Gendusa: “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!”

The messages were first reported by Jonah Furman of Labor Notes. 

In an email to VICE News, the company’s public relations team said it was “not correct” that Gendusa was asking employees to work through the hurricane.

“Our office is closed Wednesday and Thursday,” the company said. “We have some employees voluntarily working remote who are safely located in non-evacuation zones. Our building is open as a shelter during the hurricane for staff, friends, children and pets. We did this during Irma as well.” 

The company did not respond to follow-up questions asking if they were denying Gendusa made these statements, or when the decision was made to close the office Wednesday and Thursday. But VICE News independently confirmed the transcript and text communications initially reported by Furman, and viewed an email sent Monday morning by the company’s vice president of human resources reiterating the message.

“As most of you know, PCM was built to withstand a Category 5 Hurricane. And since we are a national company we would like to continue servicing our clients if we can,” the email said. “You will be allowed to bring your children to work those two days. We will have movies and other fun stuff in the common area to keep them entertained.”


On Tuesday afternoon, after Furman tweeted about the communications, the same vice president sent another message to employees. “We wanted to make sure you know that PostcardMania offices will be closed Wednesday & Thursday this week,” the email said, adding that the company “hope[s] to reopen our offices on Friday.” 

A current Postcardmania employee, who spoke to VICE News on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, suspected Furman’s tweet and the negative response on social media drove the company’s decision to change course.

“I was under the impression that we were expected to work, and if you had to work from home or an evacuation zone, log in on your laptop,” the employee said. “The messaging was ‘production will not slow down,’ consistently up until that post went viral.”

Employees who spoke to VICE News said that workers were still expected back in the office Friday, and that they were still expected to hit their 40 hours of work, even if that meant working through the weekend. The anonymous employee summarized the general feeling among workers as “concern and frustration.”

“Even people who aren’t at my levels, who have to manage people, have expressed they’re concerned about their subordinates and themselves,” the employee said. “A lot of people drive from pretty far around because the company does present itself as a desirable place to work. So people come from Tampa or even Sarasota, which is over an hour drive.”


Another employee who spoke to VICE News on condition of anonymity said that the company culture is a “facade.”

“They want to give off the look of their company being a fun environment, but at the end of the day work/life balance is nonexistent,” the employee said. 

In a Wednesday morning email that was shared by the company with VICE News following the publication of this story, Gendusa apologized for the company’s tone on Monday. “I know this has been a stressful time, and I want to apologize to anyone who received our text message on Monday and felt that it came across as insensitive,” Gendusa wrote. “That text did not accurately reflect how seriously we were taking this storm and everyone's safety, and I regret that it was sent without better judgment.”

“We never intended to make people feel like they had to come in to work when they need to evacuate or take other hurricane precautions,” Gendusa wrote in the email.

After the posts went viral, another Florida-based marketing company, New York Ave, contrasted their response with Postcardmania’s. 

“While @postcardmania is suggesting employees stay at work – ground zero for #HurricaneIan – we’re closing our offices, directing employees to leave early to take care of family/home, WFH if possible, and evacuate as directed,” the company tweeted. “Marketing can take a few days off.”


One Postcardmania employee who spoke to VICE News said they were planning to leave the company prior to this week, and that the organization’s handling of the hurricane has made their job search more urgent. 

“This just confirmed I need to put my all into looking for another job,” the employee said. 

This story was updated after publication to reflect new comments from Postcardmania.

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.