Why returning to the office is dependent on childcare: Office Hours
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The way we work is rapidly evolving. In a matter of months, the pandemic has forever changed how we communicate, where we conduct business, the technology we use and how we juggle home and work life. There’s also been a much-needed spotlight thrown on the makeup of the workforce and the efforts being done to make the ad world a more-inclusive place. Every Thursday, Ad Age tackles a different issue regarding the way these changes are impacting our professional lives.
Future of real estate
The future of physical office space has been top of mind for many corporations whose offices have sat empty for months due to COVID-19 and will likely continue to be void of life through the end of the year and into 2021. This has certainly created plenty of challenges for real estate firms whose job it now is to help guide tenants as they think about how they can safely bring employees back to the office.
JLL, which operates office spaces as well as malls, has reopened 85 percent of its 350 offices with safety in mind. But one the biggest hurdles to returning to the office is childcare, Paige Steers, executive managing director of marketing at real estate giant JLL, told Adrianne Pasquarelli on the latest episode of Ad Age’s “Marketer’s Brief” podcast.
“Childcare will be something that is going to inhibit companies from fully getting in,” she says. “That will be one of the burdens we will have to solve … to get back fully.”
After years of trying to squeeze as many people as possible into a space to cut down on costs, Steers says those efforts will sharply reverse. Offices are also revising their layouts, moving away from the collaborative open office plan that has become popular in recent decades.
Companies need also to have a clear exit strategy in case someone gets sick, setting up a plan for how that person can leave an area without infecting others.
Listen to the entire episode here.
It's this thinking that has led multiple companies to announce they are abandoning their headquarters this week.
The Daily News will operate without a newsroom, as parent company Tribune Publishing determined the tabloid does not need a physical space to continue publishing, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The Daily News will close its newsroom in Lower Manhattan, and Tribune will also shutter the offices of four of its other newspapers.
REI Co-op, which recently completed development on its corporate campus in the Spring District neighborhood of Bellevue, Washington, is now looking to sell its headquarters and embrace a distributed work model. Rather than a single location, REI’s “headquarters” would span multiple locations across the Seattle area and the company would lean into remote working. This would allow flexibility for more employees to live and work outside of the Puget Sound region and shrink the co-op’s carbon footprint, the company said in a statement.
“The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to re-examine and rethink every aspect of our business and many of the assumptions of the past. That includes where and how we work,” said REI President and CEO Eric Artz, in a video call with employees. “As a result, our new experience of ‘headquarters’ will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago.”
Over the past week, several companies have extended their remote-working policies.
Facebook is the latest tech company that will allow employees to work from home into 2021. The social platform is now saying staff won’t need to return to the office until July 2021. It is also giving them $1,000 for home office needs, Reuters reports.
And Fox Corp. announced that a significant portion of its staffers will work remotely through the end of the year, according to Variety. “In the near-term, we want to maintain a low density in our offices for those employees whose jobs do require them to be on site,” Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a note. “We also want to provide additional clarity to everyone, allowing you to plan for your own childcare, eldercare and other personal considerations. While the needs of each business will vary over the next five months, we currently expect that those non-production employees who have been working remotely will continue to do so for the remainder of the calendar year.”
Summer internships were certainly upended this year. Instead of exploring a new city, attending happy hours and networking events, many students eager for jobs in the ad world spent their summers back in their childhood homes behind computers.
Ad agencies improvised, with Innocean hosting “INNside the Agency,” providing an introduction to various departments of the agency and giving students and recent graduates tips on how to stand out as strong candidates for future job opportunities.
Zain Ladha spent this summer in a more traditional intern role at RPA, though his office was located in his parent’s house in Long Beach, Calif. He said the agency did a good job of connecting interns with mentors and each other with everything from presentations to get to know various departments to virtual concerts.
Meanwhile, 200 students looking for careers in advertising took part in “Camp ADventure” this summer, a virtual camp where campers worked on a variety of projects, including developing creative to present to the international Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. At the camp, which was founder by Courtney Foster, a media buyer at the Martin Agency, and run by the Ad Club at Virginia Commonwealth University, the campers were broken into 28 “bunks” that functioned as small agencies. Foster, Nguyen and Collins made sure every bunk had strategists, art directors and copywriters. Each bunk worked on one of three RFPs provided by ICMEC. These included a comprehensive re-brand, an awareness campaign for International Missing Children’s Day and a multichannel marketing campaign focused on funding and donorship.
This week in layoffs
WarnerMedia is doling out about 600 layoffs in a first round of job cuts this week, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cuts are hitting the company’s film and TV departments and come after WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced a major restructuring of the organization last week.
Mozilla laid off 250 people as part of a restructuring of its commercial arm. “Pre-COVID, our plan for 2020 was a year of change: building a better internet by accelerating product value in Firefox, increasing innovation, and adjusting our finances to ensure financial stability over the long term,” Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker said in an internal memo. “We started with immediate cost-saving measures such as pausing our hiring, reducing our wellness stipend and cancelling our All-Hands. But COVID-19 has accelerated the need and magnified the depth for these changes. Our pre-COVID plan is no longer workable. We have talked about the need for change—including the likelihood of layoffs—since the spring. Today these changes become real.”
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.
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