Office Hours: Collaborative spaces and some new faces
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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.
How office space will be utilized in a post-COVID world has certainly been a big question as many companies postpone returning to the office until the end of the year and into 2021. McCann Worldwide provided a glimpse into its reopening plans this week in an email obtained by Ad Age. The goal is to start reopening U.S. offices in September and the first phase of these efforts is centered around creating collaborative spaces where “people can meet to participate in new business pitches, work on creative reviews or discuss other important issues,” Chairman-CEO Harris Diamond and Chief Operating Officer Bill Kolb wrote in the email.
These spaces are “designed to help you accomplish those tasks that are best served by in-person conversations,” they continued. Collaborative areas at McCann will be outfitted with all necessary technology to enable those working from home to join in any in-person meetings.
The industry will likely see more companies utilizing offices as hubs for meetings and collaboration vs. a place where employees are tethered to their desks for an entire day. Research company Nielsen actually plans to convert its New York City Offices into meeting spaces for employees as they continue to work from home post-pandemic, according to Entrepreneur magazine.
Bucking the trend
While many major corporations are looking to flee or repurpose office space, Amazon is sticking to its office expansion plans in New York City, according to The New York Times. The tech giant plans to hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, and those jobs would fill office space the company acquired before COVID-19 hit, including the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
As agencies and brands focus on their diversity and inclusion efforts, there seems to be a new twist to the traditional chief diversity and inclusion officer role. The word “equity” is becoming part of these designations, with at least two companies making hires for roles that have the word in their title.
Omnicom Group’s BBDO Worldwide named Jason Rosario, exec producer and host of Yahoo! News web series “Dear Men,” as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse reports. This is the first time anyone within the agency has been appointed to a C-suite DE&I role.
Pizza Hut also promoted one of its lawyers to the brand's first chief equity officer, Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl reports in our racial injustice response blog. In the role, Chequan Lewis “will work to put in place structures, processes and decision-making that create a more equitable workplace and company for our employees, franchisees, licensees, restaurant teams, customers, and communities we serve,” Pizza Hut said in a statement.
In the three months since the death of George Floyd, which ignited protests and roused the ad world to look internally at its own role in persisting systemic racism, there have been plenty of words of support for Black Lives Matter and promises from brands and agencies to do better. In Ad Age’s first town hall addressing racism, Black leaders discussed action steps the industry needs to take in fighting racism.
“For agencies, particularly small and mid-sized ones with more limited resources, who perhaps can’t implement sweeping D&I changes, they can offer speaker series, celebrate cultural events and do a reading or book club where people can self-educate,” suggested Monique Nelson, chair and CEO of UWG.
As it relates to word choice, Rashad Robinson. president of Color of Change, said that when addressing issues of equity and justice within an agency or brand, it is critical to be aware of the intent in your words. “We’ll say things like ‘vulnerable communities,’ ‘Black people are vulnerable.’ We spend our time trying to fix those people, rather than fixing the structures that have hurt them,” he said.
And agencies need to be prepared to confront clients in a polite but firm way regarding efforts to be inclusive, said Angela Brown, senior social strategic at GSD&M. “If a client says something like ‘they don’t look like an engineer’ or ‘they don’t look like a family,’” when using POC talent in creative, “you have to go flip it back on them and ask what about them doesn’t fit. Then their bias is back in their face,” Brown said.
For more takeaways from the town hall, watch the entire event on-demand here.
Back to Home
As the dog days of summer rapidly approach the start of the school season, there’s a sense of mounting anxiety over how parents will balance work with their child’s hybrid or full-remote school schedule. Getting through the fall will require plenty of empathy. Some people in the agency world are moving across country to be closer to family who can help with childcare and be in a school district that offers in-person learning, Digiday reports.
How are you planning on balancing the daunting task of working from home with your child’s schooling? We want to hear from you—email [email protected] with your plans and how your company is helping parents during this time.
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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