Office Hours: Moving out of New York City
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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.
New York, New York?
Madison Avenue as an identifier for the advertising industry could lose its relevance post-pandemic as agencies rethink their reliance on New York City offices. During Omnicom Group’s third-quarter earnings call, Chairman and CEO John Wren said he doesn't “believe we need every single function in New York City; [some] can be moved to lower-cost areas,” Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse reports.
As agencies assess what the future looks like in a post-COVID world, another area of focus is mental health. Wren said being out of the office “puts different people in different situations.”
Ultimately, Wren doesn’t ever expect to see everyone go back to the office five days a week.
New York’s technology and finance bosses are also tempering their expectations for bringing people back to work, it seems.
Bloomberg reports that only 15% of office workers are projected to return by the end of 2020, according to the Partnership for New York City, which surveyed major employers in Manhattan over the past two weeks. That’s down from an August estimate of 26%.
Tech employers see 49% of workers coming back by July 2021, compared a 74% estimate in the August survey, while finance and insurance companies see 52%, down from 55%.
So far, just 10% of Manhattan workers have returned to the office, only slightly up from 8% in August, the survey found.
Desk chairs and WiFi
If Wren’s prediction holds true, and working from home in any capacity becomes the norm, employees will certainly be looking to create more permanent work spaces in their homes. Who’d ever think we’d be yearning for our ergonomic desk chairs? But after seven months of sitting at dining room and kitchen tables or fold up chairs, our backs are feeling it. To help make employees more comfortable working from home, agencies are allowing them to borrow their office chairs, stand up desks and computer monitors, according to Digiday. Other new perks include the ability to expense WiFi and stipends to spruce up home work spaces.
Another kind of perk
While some companies are providing perks for those working at home, Bloomberg is giving a $75-per-day stipend to its workers who are starting to return to the office. The stipend is intended to help pay for things like tolls, parking and public transportation, with the goal of helping those who are coming back select the commuting option they are most comfortable with using.
Young, remote workers are cruising the country and connecting to the office from the road. But more-established employees can now qualify for a two-year stay in the Cayman Islands, reports CNBC. Tourists aren’t allowed into the British territory yet, but workers with salaries over $100,000 ($150,000 for couples) are eligible, assuming they can pull together the proof, pay the fees and foot the bill for lodgings once they get there. But infection rates are very low. Expect a 14-day quarantine and multiple COVID tests after arrival.
Down the drain
It seemed like the entire country was scrambling for toilet paper at the start of the pandemic, so much so that rolls of the toilet tissue were hard to come by. But Kimberly-Clark’s business that supplies office buildings with things like tissue-paper rolls and toilet-seat covers is taking a hit, according to Bloomberg.
Top executives at McCann Worldgroup, BBDO New York, the Martin Agency and Johannes Leonard discuss how COVID-19 has changed the advertising business, from client relationships, production and hiring, in Fast Company.
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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