While holding companies WPP, MDC Partners, and Publicis Groupe are “empowering” employees to work remotely if they choose to, at least two NY-based shops are taking it one step further to tell their staffers to stay away from corporate headquarters.
Starting next week, both Horizon Media and StrawberryFrog will “strongly” encourage all of their staff to work remotely. Horizon’s Stephen Hall explains. “The office and agency is still open and all teams will be available for clients, but we will be working remotely like many other organizations have chosen.”
This decision was an obvious one to make, he says. “At the moment the health and wellbeing of our people is paramount.”
StrawberryFrog’s CEO Scott Goodson adds that he will make the decision to return on a week-by-week basis, “They are better protected if we do not gather in groups or ride trains, subways and buses,” he says. “This will also protect our families, the broader community and StrawberryFrog. We are not doing this out of fear. No one is ill. No one associated with our teams has been diagnosed. Rather we are recommending work from home to be proactive and have confidence in our ability to work as a larger team together remotely.”
Even agencies outside of the hot zones like NY and LA are erring on the side of caution. Charleston-based Levelwing has moved all external meetings to video and nixed any conference attendance for the foreseeable future.
Cincinnati-based Curiosity is distributing new protocols regarding staff schedules and voluntary commuting options. San Francisco’s Camp + King in is paying for parking or Uber rides since leaders don’t want their employees taking public transportation.
The second concern agencies are aggressively addressing is business continuity and risk management. Many are sending out massive updates to staff, vendors, and clients to keep them informed. Leaders also report they are updating and optimizing their IT with a heightened focus on seamless connectivity.
Levelwing, for instance, is currently co-mingling departments so an entire account team can be taken out without impacting their output.
Forward-thinking agencies like Wavemaker are already ahead of the game in syncing up employees to work from anywhere with everyone at any time, but agency executives tell MediaPost they are confident in their infrastructure and technology.
Levelwing is taking serious proactive measures on the cleanliness front by having its offices cleaned and disinfected at least two times per day. New York-based Barker has established a “safe zone perimeter” at its office doors.
Agencies admit that some moves may seem to be overly cautious, but as John Barker, President and Chief Idea Officer, states: “There is only one thing in business more important to me than delivering extraordinary work for our clients, and that is the health and safety of our team.”