AdNews brings the stories of those working from home (WFH) in the advertising and media industry during the coronavirus crisis.
Nick Kavanagh is head of communications strategy at Havas Media.
How are you dealing with the silence?
Silence? Are you kidding me!? As a leadership team we quickly realised that successfully navigating lockdown - whether at an agency level, as internal teams or in terms of strengthening client and publisher relationships – would require regular communication and face-time. Not only would this ensure the smooth running of the business and allow us to make sure everyone was OK, but would help instil a rhythm to the working week.
From daily all-agency Zoom meetings at the start the day to weekly leadership and management meetings, plus the odd pitch and Havas Village integrated responses to brief, I can’t say there’s been too much silence to be had. But in those moments when it has been a bit quieter, BBC 6 Music has always helped.
What’s the upside?
Although it’s been intense and certainly challenging at times, I think [and hope] that there will be many long-terms benefits from this experience. We’ve conducted regular agency ‘health-check’ surveys and one of the overriding themes to emerge is how people believe their productivity has actually increased whilst working from home, so it has been great to challenge the preconception that not being in the office means people can’t deliver to the highest standards. Hopefully greater flexibility and agility in how and where we work will be a theme that will endure.
Another upside has been how creativity seems to have flourished during this period, both in and outside of work. I’m a firm believer in the power of creativity – not just in its proven ability as the most potent driver of brand and business growth but also in helping people with their mental health. So whether it’s been my Instagram feed being littered with friend’s pickling or pottery endeavours, or ourselves as an agency challenging each other to do more interesting work with reduced budgets, it’s been awesome to see creativity taking on much greater significance.
From a personal perspective, separating work from home, and therefore switching-off at the end of the day, was definitely challenging to start with. Fortunately we have a small and very draughty garage at the end of the garden, which has been my home office for the last however-many months. Probably should have got a heater sooner than I did though.
From an agency perspective, and I very much doubt this is unique to us, trying to grow and protect an agency culture when you’re generally restricted to Zoom has been challenging. You realise so much is achieved in an agency via osmosis. Simply being in close proximity to others means information and learning flows through between people subconsciously, which has made the development of more junior members of staff particularly challenging.
How are you using the commuting time saved?
Pre-Covid we may have had one or two meals together as a family a week. Not commuting has meant we’re now able to do this on a much more regular basis, which is something I know a lot of people are keen to continue doing as a more flexible approach to working starts to become a more regular feature of how we work.
I am looking forward to being back in the office because…
….this is such as exciting time to be working at Havas. Post-Covid, clients are increasingly going to be exploring new agency models and ways of working. Models that are more digitally biased, more customer centric, more nimble and more integrated and that are driven by creativity. With the strength of our digital expertise and breadth of the integrated Village model, I don’t think anyone in this market is as well-placed as ourselves to take advantage of this, so I can’t wait to get back-in to continue delivering this type of work with my team mates.
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