With states gradually beginning to relax social distancing guidelines over the course of this month, the ad industry is starting to think about what the realities of slowly returning to the office might look like.
To that point, Omnicom CEO John Wren sent a memo to employees yesterday outlining how Omnicom will approach a gradual transition back to the office.
After opening the memo by celebrating a series of recent honors received by Omnicom agencies from trade publications, he turns to Omnicom’s work around Covid-19 itself. He cites examples including healthcare agencies “working tirelessly with their clients on clinical trials for drugs being used to treat Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).”
Wren then informs employees that “except in certain markets in Asia where our people have already returned to the office,” Omnicom will maintain its current work-from-home policy until May 15. Acknowledging that many markets around the world are preparing to reopen their economies, he introduces Returning to the Office Safely guidance for employees and agency leaders developed by a cross-functional committee incorporating 30,000 responses to an employee survey sent out last week.
He goes on to reassure employees on a number of points.
Firstly, he says, Omnicom will take “some extra time before opening” following local governments and health officials giving businesses the green light to do so. Once offices begin to open, they will also do so in “a phased approach so we can maintain proper social distancing,” and employees “juggling both professional and personal responsibilities” will be given time to discuss their situations with managers in an effort to best accommodate them.
This last point will likely prove especially important for working parents in regions where schools remain closed, including New York and the surrounding states of Connecticut and New Jersey.
Wren also emphasizes that “anybody who is not comfortable returning to the office as we gradually transition back and maintain social distancing will not be required to do so.”
“As always, your safety and well-being remain our top priority, and we will do our best to keep you informed on any new developments,” he concludes. “In the meantime, stay safe and continue to take care of yourself and your loved ones.”
You can read the memo in full below:
As we begin another week, I want to share some much-needed good news about the exceptional work by our agencies and their recent award wins, as well as provide an update on our return-to-office plans.
Most recently, Ad Age revealed its 2020 A-List and our performance was outstanding. Goodby Silverstein & Partners, TBWA and BBDO were all named to the top ten for Agency of the Year, adam&eveDDB was named International Agency of the Year and TBWA\Media Arts Lab was named Creative Agency of the Year. For the sixth year in a row, adam&eveDDB was awarded Campaign UK’s Agency of the Year and Manning Gottlieb OMD won Media Agency.
In addition, all three of our global creative networks—BBDO, DDB and TBWA—came in the top five for The Drum’s World Creative Rankings, and Omnicom was named the most awarded holding company. On the PR front, Marina Maher Communications was named an Agency of the Decade by PRovoke.
Congratulations to all on these achievements.
The work you’ve been doing around COVID-19 continues to be impressive. OMD helped increase awareness around Draft-A-Thon, which raised over $100 million for COVID-19 relief. Several of our healthcare agencies are working tirelessly with their clients on clinical trials for drugs being used to treat Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), one of the most dramatic issues of COVID-19. A group of 25 individuals at Harrison & Star and SSCG Media Group worked around the clock to support the Emergency Use Authorization of remdesivir for COVID-19, and it has just been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In Helsinki, TBWA helped its client develop a hands-free door handle that minimizes the spread of the virus. Addressing the rise of domestic violence during this pandemic, TBWA is working with a client to promote a hand signal that will silently inform others if a person is in danger. These are just a few of the countless examples I’ve heard of, and I want to thank you for your hard work and ingenuity.
As of now, except in certain markets in Asia where our people have already returned to the office, we are maintaining our work from home policy until at least May 15.
That said, many markets around the world are preparing to end lockdowns and re-open their economies. With this in mind, a cross-functional committee developed Returning to the Office Safely guidance for you and your agency leaders. The guidelines will be implemented by each office and will be tailored for local regulations and the specific needs of your agency.
You can access the guidelines at returningsafely.omnicomgroup.com.
As part of our plan to return to the office safely, we sent out a brief survey last week. More than 30,000 of you responded to the survey. Thank you. Our committee used your feedback to inform the recommended guidance.
While each of our agencies is still in the planning process, I want to reassure you of a few things:
- First, our offices will not open before local governments and public health officials give us the green light to do so, and even then, we will take some extra time before opening.
- Once we open our offices, it will be under a phased approach so we can maintain proper social distancing.
- We know many of you are juggling both professional and personal responsibilities. You’ll be informed of our plans in plenty of time to discuss your particular situation with your manager so we can do our best to accommodate you.
- And finally, please know that anybody who is not comfortable returning to the office as we gradually transition back and maintain social distancing will not be required to do so and should speak with their manager.
As always, your safety and well-being remain our top priority, and we will do our best to keep you informed on any new developments. In the meantime, stay safe and continue to take care of yourself and your loved ones.