Over the last two years of the pandemic phase, advertising agencies had successfully adapted to function on hybrid and remote work models. While some agencies continued to call a certain number of employees to office, others had applied a rotational system for them.
With the Covid-19 situation improving towards the end of 2021, employees were excited to finally report to offices in full capacity in 2022. But the sudden rise in the number of cases owing to the Omicron variant has again put a halt on reopening of the offices.
Despite the challenges posed by remote working, the ad industry has managed to put out impressive communication pieces in the past two years.
However, leaders have pointed out that physical interaction/meeting is a vital part of the advertising business.
According to Kapil Arora, Co-Chairman and CEO, 82.5, while the pandemic has revealed the importance of physical meetings, it has also shown a number of things that were unnecessary in the business process.
“I feel that there is a role that physical meetings play in our business. While some amount of physical meeting is required, the period (pandemic) has also taught that a lot of things are unnecessary. For example, small work-related chit-chat, operational jobs, all can be done remotely. So, a hybrid model will emerge and stay,” Arora said.
Govind Pandey, Chief Executive Officer at TBWA, said that although currently his agency is following a hybrid model, he is an old-school person and feels there is no substitute to meeting people face-to-face or having discussions over coffee.
According to Rohan Mehta, CEO, Kinnect, while the benefits of working from a physical office and meeting your teammates cannot be taken away, the hybrid model is here to stay even beyond the pandemic.
Earlier in 2021, the industry was under scrutiny as a few agencies were insisting upon employees to return to office. However, as of today, most agencies are looking to follow a hybrid model even beyond the pandemic.
Several junior and mid-level employees are content with working from home for reasons like work/life balance, saving commute hours and expenses. According to several surveys, employees are rooting for greater flexibility.
Looking at the current scenario, the 82.5 agency has asked all its employees to WFH beginning January 2, 2022, and it plans to continue the same until January 31. The agency had earlier reopened its office with 50% capacity in December 2021.
Mehta of Kinnect stated that looking at the current situation they have also transitioned back to the WFH trend. “With every passing month and quarter, our ability to deal with these changing times has become significant. As an organization, we have been quite resilient through these two years. We have managed to grow in 2020 and we continued to grow in 2021. I think organisationally we have a strong work culture, whether there is a lockdown or not. We have tried to make it work always even when things were against us,” he said.
He added that for the marketing and the advertising industry, it is important to figure out what will be the working model going forward and stated that a hybrid model is what makes sense for the industry.