Home pages: Where the heart is
Corporate sites redesigned for response
By Porter Anderson
(CNN) -- Storefronts in cyberspace: Most companies see their home pages as corporate facades, smartly turned to the marketplace.
In normal times, you can stroll Web sites as you might stroll Main Street, looking into companies' windows to see what's there, what's new, what's on sale.
But since Tuesday, a lot of those sites have become windows into the hearts and hopes of a badly shaken job arena.
The World Trade Center housed offices of more than 400 companies when it was attacked on Tuesday. And now, when you access some of those companies' home pages, you find they're places to inform careerists of what's happened, make announcements, ask for help, reassure clientele.
Here are a few samples of sites that have become something akin to surrogate workplaces, symbolic homes, for staffs that have no offices -- even worse, for offices that have no staffs.
One of the happier stories to come out of the horror has been that of Martin Progressive, an IT strategy and consulting firm that had more than 200 employees based in offices on the 77th floor of the World Trade Center's north tower.
"We are extremely pleased," reads a home-page message from the company's operating committee, "to announce that as of today, fully 100 percent of our staff has been accounted for. This is the best news we could have hoped for, given the tragic circumstances."
Initially, Martin Progressive used its home-page space to let people know that its operations were being temporarily run from its Chicago offices. Then, on Friday, the news was posted that temporary space has been located now in New York on 11th Street.
And the "Martin Progressives," if you will, have been particularly careful in their good fortune, to be mindful of the experiences of so many less-fortunate careerists who were their neighbors at the World Trade Center: "We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by this tragic disaster," reads the home page's first comment. "Our thoughts are prayers are with you all."
AT and T
AT&T's offices were across from the now well-known One Liberty Plaza building, according to AT&T Wireless' David P. Caouette. And no employees were lost or injured, he says, in Tuesday's attacks.
The company now is using its home page, however, to announce the efforts it's making to support the workers of companies less fortunate than it has been. The first entry under a section of the AT&T home page called "newsroom" reads "AT&T Donates $1 Million to American Red Cross and $10 Million on Prepaid Calling Cards to Relief Efforts."
And the company's contributions to the response effort include up to $300,000 in funds to match employee donations to the relief efforts, according to the Web site. That's in addition to $10 million in prepaid long-distance calling cards being provided for the use of relief workers in New York and Washington, and "free AT&T long distance service from all pay phones in the affected areas of New York City for the duration of the emergency."
Through Friday, AT&T also offered free e-mail and Internet access on its AT&T Public Phone 2000i units at airports in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Miami, Dallas and other areas for the use of travelers who were delayed and/or diverted when the FAA ordered the nationwide "groundstop" of all commercial air travel.
Kemper, which had offices on the 35th and 36th floors of the north tower, is using its site to offer a correction to what it says is some incorrect information from a media report.
"We remain confident that all of our 225 employees have reached safety," the article says -- this, despite what it describes as an erroneous report that spoke of a far less upbeat experience for Kemper's employees.
The Kemper material also includes an announcement of procedural points to be used by Kemper clients in making insurance claims as a result of Tuesday's assault. "Kemper has mobilized all available personnel to respond to the losses resulting from these catastrophic events."
"Since the evacuation of our downtown New York locations," reads the home page of investment bank Lehman Brothers, "we have been able to contact all but one of our 618 employees who worked in our World Trade Center offices."
Ira Zaslow is the employee still being sought, according to the report, which is accompanied by a fine photo of Zaslow and his son Brian, apparently taken at a graduation ceremony for Brian. "We are working closely with Ira's family," the message from CEO Richard S. Fuld reads.
"Over the past number of years, we have developed disaster recovery plans for the World Financial Center operations and those plans have already been activated. We have moved our business activities and support systems to our alternate locations, and continue to serve our clients around the world," Fuld writes.
"I want to thank all of our employees as well as our entire New York community for the selflessness and bravery exemplified by all in response to this tragic event."
Windows on the World
Family members and friends of employees of the popular restaurant complex -- which was positioned on the 106th and 107th floors of the north tower -- have spoken very eloquently of their anguish in the past days to CNN correspondents.
These folks' search for those they can't account for now commands the company's site utterly, darkly, fearfully.
The home page is a single, black page with simple, white type: "We are praying for the safety of our colleagues and their families," it reads. Our toll-free hotline is 877-226-5170. Please call with any information. Our thoughts and prayers are with you."
The investments firm of Morgan Stanley had offices on many floors of the south tower -- 43 through 46, 56 and 59 through 74. And it had one of the largest employee rosters of business-tenants in the center.
"Since the tragedy occurred," reads a statement on the company's site, "the firm has made an all-out effort to reach the approximately 3,700 employees who worked at No. 2 and No. 5 World Trade Center in the offices of Morgan Stanley's individual investor and asset management groups. Today (this was posted on Thursday), the firm announced there are no confirmed deaths but between 30 and 40 people are still unaccounted for."
A new form of B2B -- business-to-business -- transaction surfaces here: "Tracking down and reaching nearly 3,700 employees who were left without offices on Tuesday," reads the statement, "was made possible by the around-the-clock efforts of the people at the Discover Card call centers who fielded more than 50,000 calls from people giving or seeking information on loved ones."
Clearly, however, the company has been profoundly and permanently affected.
"This past Tuesday," writes Philip Purcell, the company's chairman, "many of us who work at The World Trade Center returned home to our loved ones.
"Sadly, all of us did not."
Remembering economist Leslie Whittington of Georgetown University
September 13, 2001
Corporate Class -- In the aftermath, going on with work
September 12, 2001
Witnesses to the moment: Workers' voices
September 11, 2001
America's New War, a CNN.com special
Windows on the World
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