Watch Arthur Sadoun's coronavirus video message to Publicis employees
Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun has recorded a video message to the network’s employees underlining his concern for their safety and encouraging them to work from home.
The video, titled “Taking Care Together,” was issued on Sunday, and came after France issued new orders for the shutdown of schools, bars, restaurants and non-essential stores. In it, Sadoun said that employees should try to work from home, although most offices will still be open, and he urged staff to use videoconferencing as much as they can.
Sadoun also referred to a dedicated email account to which Publicis employees can address their questions and concerns; although there was no mention of employee AI platform Marcel (and the company did not respond to questions on how it could play a part in the response.)
Sadoun also warned that, with stock markets crashing, Publicis agencies need to stick closely with their clients. “More than ever, we need to stay close to our clients and their business, even if we can’t be with them in person,” he said. “As we all navigate this unprecedented situation together and actually discover new ways if working ... our role is to help them monitor events, to take the right strategy decisions, maximize their investment for short-term goals and prepare for a pivot once the crisis is over.”
“No doubt these are tough times,” he added, but reassured employees that the company has “solid foundations” and “agile structure” to weather the crisis.
Sadoun joined other network chiefs in encouraging employees to work from home, although so far he’s the only one to add the personal touch of doing so by video. (The company does have a tradition of videos featuring its CEOs, but these are usually light-hearted productions for the holidays.
On Sunday, Omnicom’s John Wren issued a memo to employees that stated: “At this stage, we feel a work from home policy is the right approach for our people. Starting March 16th, we are asking for the support of our agency leaders to make certain our people work remotely and only essential staff go into the office. If you have not done so already, please ensure in the next day or so that you collect what you need to work from home. In addition, we are encouraging all of you to follow the guidance of national, local and city regulatory authorities.”
Wren also added that the network had now seen “marked improvements in China and Singapore with our teams starting to get back to business as usual.”
WPP has also asked staff to work from home where possible. On Saturday, CEO Mark Read issued an internal memo saying the company would move to a policy of "Managed Remote Working,” although he added, “Where some functions need to be carried out in offices, your managers will work with you to determine how to cover what needs to be done, and will encourage travel at less busy times and greater flexibility in working patterns.”
Read also said that, going forward, WPP employees could not take part in either domestic or international business air travel without permission from company CEOs—and that permission would be denied except in “truly exceptional circumstances.”