Welcome to Ad Age’s Office Hours newsletter. If you're reading this online or in a forwarded email, here's the link to sign up for the newsletter.
In a matter of months, the pandemic has transformed the way we communicate, where we conduct business, the technology we use, and how we juggle home and work life. Every Thursday, Ad Age looks at how these changes are impacting our professional lives.
Diversity takes a village
While the ad industry has been shedding jobs amid the pandemic, there is one role agencies and brands still seem to be hiring for: diversity, equity and inclusion. There’s been an uptick in these hires as companies look to diversify their ranks in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, but is it enough?
It's one thing to hire a chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, or someone with a similar title, and another to diversify from the top down and across all departments, Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse writes. This makes it essential that agencies do not rest all of this work on the shoulders of one person.
Ultimately, the job requires a team, not an individual. Part of the reason why DE&I jobs are so in demand is because of a rapid turnover linked to burnout. Companies expect DE&I chiefs to effect policies across the organization, serve as hiring manager and an HR expect, without a dedicated team.
Other issues include a lack of clarity around job duties, and oftentimes the position does not report directly to the CEO, unlike most other chief exec roles. Read more here.
The latest chief diversity hire: Tiffany R. Warren is departing Omnicom to lead Sony Music Group’s diversity efforts. Warren will serve in the newly created role of exec VP, chief diversity and inclusion officer, where she will work to expand the company’s ongoing equity and inclusion activities and policies. Warren will report directly to Sony Music Chairman Rob Stringer.
With many agencies remaining remote, there’s an effort in the ad world to try to recreate an atmosphere where watercooler moments can happen, writes Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine. The ad industry has long been built on creative collaboration, which is a challenge over Zoom and Slack. Even as many ad professionals have adapted to working from home, moments of serendipity that can occur when people are in the same room at the same time are missing from the virtual dynamic.
In an effort to recreate impromptu moments (which in and of itself seems like an oxymoron), Amsterdam agency We are Pi has “brainstorm by bike” sessions, while Droga5 in New York features guest speakers in video chats. There are agency-wide scavenger hunts at L.A.-based Woo Agency and “kitchen hangouts” hosted by Joint London where people from every part of the agency are thrown together for a virtual cup of coffee. The meetings are mandatory, but there’s no agenda and no requirement to discuss work, with the hope that ideas might come from this open dialogue.
A few are prepared to go to even greater lengths to recreate the office atmosphere; staff at Tribal Worldwide have been sitting on open Zoom calls for multiple hours at a time. Having someone watch you from their computer screen while you work seems oddly personal.
Virtual team building
In the same vein, more companies are investing in virtual team-building to foster culture, another important part of the agency model, Digiday reports. The fear is that working from home will have long-term negative effects on coworker relationships.
Microsoft shows off its flexibility
Microsoft is the latest company that plans to let more employees work from home even after the pandemic subsides. "Flexibility can mean different things to each of us, and we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements and business needs we have at Microsoft," Kathleen Hogan, exec VP and chief people officer, wrote in a blog post last week. "To address this, we have provided guidance to employees to make informed decisions around scenarios that could include changes to their worksite, work location, and/or work hours once offices are open without any COVID-19 restrictions."
That does it for this week's Office Hours. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here.
Subscribers make the difference. Individual, group and corporate subscriptions are available—including access to our Ad Age Datacenter. Find options at AdAge.com/membership.