Are Traditional Offices Still Necessary To Innovate? How Centro Avoids WFH Burnout During COVID-19

Working from home could become the new cost-saver in financial profit-and-loss statements for tech companies and agencies across advertising.

Centro President Tyler Kelly said the company could save about $9 million annually if he doesn’t renew leasing contracts in the United States and allows everyone to work from home. Centro has 31 offices, yet U.S. recovery guidelines suggest reduced capacity for those who must work in offices.

“Right now, it’s work from home during the foreseeable future,” Kelly said. “I don’t see it going back to the way it was for years, where people are hopping on planes every week.”

Kelly said productivity at Centro has increased since the quarantine began, but data from CivicScience suggests employees need to find a balance to avoid fatigue and burnout.

When the 928 survey respondents were asked whether they are spending longer hours working from home, 24% said yes, all the time; 24% said yes, sometimes; 28% said no, not really; and 23% said no, not at all. The study also found that productivity and fatigue are correlated.



As most agencies and platform companies have found, April was tough, but there were no layoffs among Centro’s 700 employees. People have been incredibly productive, Kelly said, adding his biggest fear was that employees would not stay informed and create their own outcomes.

This was not the case.

In fact, the development team stayed on track and on Tuesday, the company plans to launch new products and upgrades that help advertisers with automation and visualization for campaign reporting, workflow management and forecasting.

The advanced tools give brands and agencies more control of their campaigns, even when working from home. The tools are available in Centro’s Basis, software that consolidates digital operations across programmatic, direct, search, and social campaigns.

The company worked on the tools for about six months, but no one dropped the ball when COVID-19 forced everyone to work from home.

“We’re lucky,” Kelly said. “We built our technology somehow knowing people would need to communicate across the world,” with some even from home.

The platform runs in the cloud, making it easy to access from anywhere. The thought really centered on a new generation of workers long before COVID-19 struck, he said. 

In a client survey conducted by Centro in late March, 95% of those working from home feel more efficient, and of those, more than 50% feel it significantly helped them.

Centro also created a COVID-19 tracker to determine daily campaign thresholds. About 15% of Centro’s business resides in sports and entertainment, but if the thresholds remain similar to today, Kelly only expects the revenue to decline about 15% in the second quarter.

“We’re looking stronger in Q3 and Q4, with the team pivoting toward companies in categories looking to spend,” he said. “I had a company call me recently to say: 'We have more money to spend than we’ve ever had before.' "

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