The WFH Diaries - Ashley O’Rourke at Publicis Sport & Entertainment

By AdNews | 2 July 2020
Ashley O’Rourke

AdNews brings the stories of those working from home (WFH) in the advertising and media industry during the coronavirus crisis.

Ashley O’Rourke is director, Publicis Sport & Entertainment:

How are you dealing with the silence?
Coming from an agency background, more often than not music ends up being the soundtrack to our days. Going into lockdown and working from home, I had selfishly assumed this would continue. My wife quickly put a stop to that. She works in a different industry and the idea of music whilst working was, I was told, “not happening”… But, I quickly got used to it and have benefitted from the lack of distraction.

What’s the upside?
We’ve been busier than ever helping support clients adapt, pivot and plan how they leverage sponsorships during this period of time – whether it’s fast-tracking their entry into the e-sports and gaming space, or renegotiating their existing sponsorship agreements to ensure they’re still extracting value, whilst sport was on "pause". But, we’ve also consciously made time to plan for when life gets back to normal by productising our offering within the Sport & Entertainment space, and really defining our core difference in market.

I’d also say, the distance caused by COVID-19 has actually brought our team closer together. The same goes for broader colleagues within Publicis Groupe, clients and rights holders who we catch up with regularly. Through this shared experience, you get to know people better outside of just what they do as their day job – their families and personal life. This ultimately has led to stronger relationships which I’m sure will continue when we’re back to ‘normal’.

The downside?
An ongoing challenge, shared by most I feel, has been separating work life from personal life, and being able to unplug. For me, the solution to this has been establishing a daily routine; repurposing the non-existent daily commute by exercising in the morning, going on a daily grocery shop to get out of the house, and where possible putting a hard stop to the day to unwind and recharge.

Outside of this, the biggest downside has been not being around my colleagues on a daily basis. We’ve adapted well to brainstorming via Microsoft Teams for new briefs but, nothing beats being in a meeting room together, butchers paper on the wall and post-it notes to flesh out some great ideas.

How are you using the commuting time saved?
I’ve tried to replicate my previous routine as much as possible with podcasts and news updates (after five years of living in Australia, I still find BBC is my go to!). Outside of this, my wife and I actively block out time a couple of mornings a week to go for an early walk, and have a coffee together before getting into work mode. This has been a great way to start the day, and a nice change from life pre-COVID.

I am looking forward to being back in the office because…
…as a result of the challenges COVID has created, new opportunities have arisen in the way we work and creatively approach sport, entertainment and experiential. As a Groupe, we’ve banded together – media agencies, creative agencies and us, somewhere in the middle! And I think whilst this year hasn’t been what anyone expected, we’re incredibly excited to get back to our new office in Sydney where all Publicis Groupe agencies have been brought together; and continue our mission of working collaboratively for the greater benefit of our clients.

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