Prior to the mandate, the agency’s office, on an average day, would be filled at 25% capacity, according to Ruhanen, who feels that remote work has “hurt creative” over the past few years.
Ruhanen said he believes there’s still effective work and innovation, but the quality of advertising across the industry has declined.
“If you take the last bunch of festivals, no one talks about great work right now,” Ruhanen said. “And I honestly do believe that’s been a consequence of what’s happened of being apart. We’re just seeing much more excitement about getting back together and doing work together.”
He added that while work over video chat is “productive and effective,” it’s also “time sensitive” and “awkward.”
“When you're developing work and strategy, these conversations can go on forever, and it needs a lot of sparring and it needs the environment. “Here,” Ruhanen said, gesturing to a Zoom screen where he was speaking for this story, “you're afraid to trip over each other, you can't read the body language, you can't physically get behind something.”
The new space will take up the 14th floor of The News building. In 2016, Omnicom signed a 15-year lease for the building’s 11th-15th floors. Other agencies in the space include PHD Media, Organic and Cline Davis & Mann.
The entrance of TBWA's space will include a gallery wall featuring childhood photos of employees. The floor will also feature a library and four “unique cafes” that “feel like little coffee shops or gathering spots to take a break or a change of scenery,” said Amy Ferguson, chief creative officer of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. TBWA will also decorate with wallpaper featuring the agency’s work.
The design is meant to blend “the best of what worked before the pandemic with where we anticipate the future of work will be,” said Nancy Reyes, CEO, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. “Our space had to include the best of the office and the best of what people have come to love from working at home—there are loud communal spaces, quiet spaces and everything in between.”