Advertising and PR agencies are focusing on their return-to-office plans.
Companies want to promote collaboration, which can be found in in-person work, while also protecting employees’ health and maintaining high outputs. Their plans are inconsistent, leading to confusion among employees who compare policies and wait to hear the official word about when they will have to return.
According to industry insiders, companies with strict policies could lose their talent to those who offer more flexibility.
Gail Heimann, CEO of IPG PR firm Weber Shandwick stated that most employees would be back at work three days per week, beginning mid-fall. Brooklyn-based agency Mother requires staff to work remotely from Monday through Thursday. Fridays will be permanent work at home. Employees can also work remotely for 15 days per year.
Omnicom, an ad holding company, is expected to have employees who work at the office for most of the week. WPP executives believe the company will do the same.
The Vaccination Policy is another sticking point. Millions of Americans are still not vaccinated, and employees have expressed concerns about their privacy and health. Omnicom, the first holding company, is asking US employees returning from overseas to show proof of vaccination. Publicis and Dentsu, however, are more flexible.
Dentsu spokeswoman, however, stated that the company expects all employees to follow safety protocols. However, it considers vaccination a “choice.” A Dentsu executive said that managers were not told to ask employees if they are vaccinated.
Publicis, another holding company, will ask all employees to complete a daily health questionnaire. It also requires unvaccinated staffers not to be exposed to the public when it reopens the US office on July 7. Insider obtained a memo from June 30, which Insider obtained. Publicis will follow the honor system regarding vaccinations, according to a person who has direct knowledge.
Publicis spokesperson said, “Given the nature of our work is very diverse, flexibility is important.”
Agency execs stated that prospective employees are now asking for in-office requirements after working remotely for months. Difficulties could hamper the recovery of agencies from the pandemic drop in recruiting. It’s also possible that people will return to commuting which could lead to lower productivity.
WorkReduce conducted a May survey and found that only 16% of senior execs would like to go back to work.
Brian Dolan, CEO of WorkReduce, stated that senior executives have called him to tell me, “If they make me return, I don’t know if it will be back. I’ll go someplace remote.”
Others agencies are more open-minded and see the recruiting benefits.
Proof Advertising in Austin let its 60-person staff moved permanently to remote locations last month. Bryan Christian, CEO of Proof Advertising, said that this has allowed the agency to hire more people. Proof also recently hired two New York-based executives who wouldn’t otherwise have been on its radar.
LA’s Exverus Media will allow its 25-person staff to work remotely. CEO Bill Durrant stated that he plans on using the savings from office space to pay for events such as a summer party for employees.
According to one executive of an ad holding company, the task of convincing thousands of people to leave work-from-home environments is “10x harder” than transitioning to a remote workforce in 2020.
Others agency employees are also eager to return.
Jeff King, Barkley’s CEO based in Kansas City, stated that he expects most of his 350 employees will work from Barkley’s office full-time by fall.
Qantas CEO Will Campbell said that nearly half of his 70 employees wished to be in LA every day. The agency is slowing down.
Bill Durrant stated, “We don’t want to be the type of place that controls employees.” “Control and fear drive a lot of the “you must be back” conversations,” said Durrant.