As an old saying goes, creativity and innovation come by being together, collaborating and observing the surroundings.
But what happens when the team cannot brainstorm together in person and the surroundings are out of bounds too? A great reset of the working culture.
âThis is a massive opportunity and advertising agencies have never worked like this. I think itâs a new way of looking at things where you donât waste time travelling and over breaks,â said Rajdeepak Das, MD and Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia.
The near lockdown across the country to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus disease has made employers look for innovative measures to ensure the routine work is not disturbed much.
The employers say that the work from home (WFH) culture is making agencies more punctual and there's an increased efficiency without hampering the creativity.
âRemote working is a new experience for all of us and we are finding it quite liberating. The fantastic thing about WFH is we are looking at spiking productivity because people are available on exact office timings. By using technology platforms, we are working seamlessly on this,â said, Rohit Ohri, Chairman and CEO, FCB India.
Interdependency is the backbone of the agency business and now thatâs seen happening over technology. As WFH and flexible working have been given by the agencies to combat the outbreak, work now rolls on Zoom, hangouts and Skype calls.
According to Praful Akali, Founder and MD, Medulla Communications, balancing safety with business continuity is a big challenge and how work from home transfers to work is a larger one.
âWork from home will affect interdependency. In our space, there are a lot of work dependencies within teams and thatâs not possible over the phone. We will manage the interdependencies by considering usage of Microsoft more widely while working from home,â he said.
The crisis will show what the future is going to be.
"The current culture is sad, but it is the reality that is going to be in the world from the next 10 or 20 years from now. If agencies donât embrace it properly now, they wonât able to earn from it. âToday we are facing a crisis due to Covid-19 and tomorrow there can be something else. As an industry we have never prepared ourselves to deal with such unseen waves,â Das shared.
Chetan Asher, Co-founder and CEO, Tonic Worldwide, said the unprecedented situation requires everyone to adapt to it, including clients. âIf this continues for three months, there will be large-scale disruption in how the agencies work and collaborate. Maybe work from home will be an option available and will become a norm,â said Asher.
Blink Digital is working from home and figuring out a new mode of operation. âWe have had to adopt creative measures to stay connected across teams and keep everybody motivated to stay productive and happy while practicing social distancing. Considering our work is largely creative, we have taken brainstorming to a virtual level and stay connected in real-time using cloud features,â shared Rikki Agarwal, Co-founder, Chief Business Operating Officer, Blink Digital.
Impact of Covid-19 on revenue to be visible soon
Experts said the extent of the loss will depend on how long they take to tackle the crisis.
There has not been any shift in advertising plans and budgets so far but that might happen in coming months, said Das.
Airlines, travel and the hotel industry are badly affected and so will be their spending on advertising.
According to Ohri, the crisis will have a huge impact on the advertising industry. With uncertainty looming over IPL and other big events, it is going to impact the business of the industry. âItâs tough to plan for the upcoming days as we donât know what is going to happen tomorrow,â he said. FCB India is looking to have a very strong informational flow within the organisation where people know what they have to do keeping themselves safe and what various measures they need to take. âAs an organisation, we are there to support all our employees,â he added.
âOur spends have come down drastically since most of our clients are retail clients and they are seeing some serious impact. However, we havenât seen any decrease in spends when it comes to the entertainment business,â Agarwal said.
Akali of Medulla Communications said agencies will be able to cover the revenues if the crisis passes in the next four-six weeks but in case it continues after that, then the lost revenues will be gone permanently. âWe will have delayed revenue if it happens within four to six weeks or else agency will start losing money,â said Akali.
Outdoor advertising specialised agency CupShup has already started witnessing a hit in revenue and output. âRevenue and output have already taken a hit with most of our clients putting campaigns on hold, some postponing it to later this year and a few even cancelling them. We only hope this situation resolves by this month-end and we get back with the least amount of setbacks,â said Sanil Jain, Co-Founder CupShup.