The role of space
McCann Worldgroup is evaluating its real estate and rethinking the future of office space for a post-pandemic world. “I don’t think you need the footprint that you currently have because there will be an acceleration of a hybrid model,” Bill Kolb, who was named CEO and chairman of McCann Worldgroup last month, said during an interview on Ad Age Remotely.
Kolb predicts the agency will eventually operate with employees working in the office three days a week and from home the other two days, or some variation of that. “I think we will always need offices to drive culture and community and they will continue to play a role. … Space plays a whole bunch of roles—it's community, belonging, culture, physical act of work.”
McCann has reopened its offices in many markets, but Kolb says only about 2% to 4% of staffers are returning at this point. Still, he said, there’s value to going in to the office, especially when it comes to collaboration and ideation. “You need to be in the same room.” To facilitate this, the agency is creating “wide-open spaces” for people to collaborate in its locations around the world.
Kolb, who takes the reins from Harris Diamond, hunkered down in Detroit, Michigan amid lockdowns, taking his last flight on March 9. He only returned to New York City about two weeks ago, right around the time the agency’s succession plan was announced.
“It was the longest I’ve been in one place without a plane ride in about 20 years,” he said. Kolb doesn’t have any plans to get on a plane again any time soon. In fact, he drove from Detroit back to Manhattan.
He also doesn’t expect clients to push for agencies to get on planes to come and see them for in-person meetings, but says client meetings have started up again. To ensure safety, Kolb says meetings are taking place in large rooms and there are half the people or less than were in a typical meeting before the pandemic.
One priority for the agency coming out of the pandemic is to improve work-life balance. For 2021, McCann is evaluating the work week, rethinking unlimited personal time off and looking at overall flexible time programs for 2021. It’s also focusing on the mental health of employees, gearing up to introduce an app that includes content on how to manage stress levels and work-life balance. There will also be monthly presentations that address mental well-being.
Watch the full interview here.