India's advertising industry may adopt the hybrid work model for an unforeseen duration to ensure that its employees are safe from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Many were hoping that the return to office will happen sooner than expected for India's creative industry. However, the large agencies are taking a cautious approach and don't want to expose their employees to any risk of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, the advertising industry was under fire for its not-so-employee friendly work culture as a few agencies were insisting that the staff come back to office.
However, after the subsiding of the second wave, the agencies want to wait for a little longer and seek to implement a hybrid work model for employees.
Amit Wadhwa, Chief Executive Officer, Dentsu Creative India, said they are exercising a lot of caution as things are yet to be normal. He said though offices are open physically, they are not asking anyone to be present and only looking at getting 10-20% of the staff to offices.
“Work from home has taught us a lot of new things and to be honest, it comes with its challenges but over time we have learnt how to balance between work and life. WFH is here to stay for sure and some part of it will continue for sure.”
“We are still cautious and have not taken any decision on opening physical offices just yet. I suspect both rounds of vaccinations for all and the response to this round of unlocking will determine our point of view,” said Kapil Arora, Co-Chairman and CEO, 82.5 Communications.
Arora said despite the challenges of work from home, they have managed to function seamlessly, delivering multiple new campaigns and winning a slew of business pitches, which have been a shot in the arm. Asked if WFH could be permanent for them he said, “Yes and no. Yes, because there are a lot of good things associated with this flexible work culture. We shouldn’t lose that as we emerge from this period. And no, because I believe our business of ideas is bolstered by physical proximity — to colleagues, to clients, to consumers. And we should bring back some element of that as and when possible”
Rahul Gupta, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, IBD India, said the pandemic affected them directly as some of their employees contacted the virus in the second wave. However, at present, just 8-10 senior-level employees are working from physical offices. “We believe that there is nothing better than collaborating and working out a problem to find a solution to a problem together. We are not pushing people to get back; a lot of employees are very uncomfortable right now because we have seen a very bad second wave. A lot of people are yet to be vaccinated and the transport system is also affected right now.”
He said work from home has not impacted their productivity in any way and is here to stay. “I presume WFH is here to stay and viruses cannot be eradicated just like that. We have to accept this and work with this format of working. Some people like working from the office and some don’t, you cannot push anyone,” he stated.
Nisha Singhania, Co-founder and Director, Infectious Advertising, said more than employees, it is the organisations that should be cautious about calling their employees back to offices. She said Infectious has not opened its offices in the entire one-and-a-half years and they don’t intend to do so until the situation is behind us.
“As of now, we have not planned to call back employees even after vaccination as a third wave is impending. So let us wait for things to be completely safe and let people get both their doses, after which we will decide how to take it forward.”
“We have been working efficiently with work from home. So going forward, a great learning for us has been that I don’t think we will ever have the necessity for everyone to come to offices every day. We will have a hybrid model with flexible working hours and people can come to work either twice a week if they feel the need to. Otherwise, we will continue to encourage work from home.”
According to Rajesh Ramaswamy, Founder, The Script Room and Filmmaker at Coconut Films, said many employees want to return to offices as the current situation is affecting their mental health. “Even when things fully opened up, we never functioned in full swing, we would meet somewhere outside as the nature of our job does not require one to be physically present in the office. It is a thinking job. So for us to gather in one space in front of machines is not required.”