For the past few months, the novel coronavirus has reached across the globe and touched nearly every aspect of day-to-day life—from grocery shopping to interacting with loved ones, working out and, well, working—in ways no one could have anticipated. With losses predicted in the billions for the advertising industry, individual agencies are facing a challenging road ahead. (Follow the latest agency moves related to COVID-19, updated daily, here.)
But while it's difficult to predict when a return to normalcy can begin, the task at hand remains: How to nimbly adapt to a new work-from-home reality? While existing digital infrastructure has made the transition easier on some agencies—especially those with experience working through times of crisis or natural disaster—the ad world, like nearly every industry on earth, is finding its footing. One thing has held true across the Amp community: People come first.
“Our agency closed our offices in Los Angeles, New York and Denver two weeks before mandatory shutdowns, for the safety of our employees,” says Jason Mitchell, founder and CEO of Movement Strategy. “This also allowed us to get a jump on the work from home transition, so as everyone else made the switch, we were already situated and ready to help our clients as they went through their own transitions.” Agencies have had to make a swift shift to remote working models, prioritizing the health of employees and clients and doing their part to plank the curve.
The timing has been more challenging for some than others: “Night After Night closed our doors and shifted to mandatory work from home the week before St. Patrick’s Day, in our busiest time with our biggest client, Jameson Irish Whiskey,” explains Elliott Phear, CEO of the New York-based agency. “I wanted to make the call early so our team had the option to relocate if needed or make the proper arrangements in terms of setting up their home offices before the city went further into lockdown mode.”
Maintaining physical and psychological well-being
Another concern for agencies has been not only the physical health of staffers, but maintaining good mental health while on lockdown, without the face-to-face collaboration and daily interactions of agency life. “Isolation can be very unsettling for many of us,” says Parks Blackwell, VP of marketing and client development at PMG. The agency took a proactive approach by giving each employee a stipend to be applied toward building out their home office as well as developing an internal resource hub offering suggestions for maintaining physical and psychological well-being, balancing work with personal life and parenthood, industry trends and more. “Our teams have even gone so far as to host virtual happy hours with our customers and co-workers in an effort to return to some sense of normalcy,” says Blackwell.