Austin, Texas independent agency McGarrrah Jessee is closing the year by announcing a series of sweeping employment policy influenced by the changes brought about by the pandemic.
The agency’s new policies include changes to its vacation policy and where employees are expected to live. McGarrah Jessee (McJ) will now offer employees unlimited paid time off. Citing studies showing that such a policy left open-ended can actually lead to employees taking less time off, the agency is requiring employees to take at least three weeks of paid time off per year to ensure that they take advantage of time to rest and replenish.
One of the many ways in which 2020 has changed agency culture has been to clearly display the flexibility and possibilities opened up by remote work, while disproving anachronistic views that remote work leads to decreased productivity. Heading into 2021, agencies will face pressure to acknowledge this reality if they wish to attract and retain talent and this is not lost on McGarrah Jesse. The “McJ Unbound” program eliminates any geographical requirements for employments, allowing McGarrah Jessee employees to live wherever they wish, in the Austin area or otherwise and for employees in the area to work remotely as desired.
“2020 has opened up the world and the McJ culture is proving to stay attached by its ideals despite porting through computers and the company will continue to invent measures to keep the company bonded together,” a spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the diversity of talent it attracts without restricting itself to its hometown benefits the agency and its clients alike. “These policies demonstrate McJ’s renewed People-First approach, which ensures that its employees are taken care of, and in turn, that the agency’s clients and its bottom line are better cared for, too.”
Other changes include a reimagining of the workspace and the work day. The agency will move away from traditional desks and workstations and reconfigure its workspace with a focus on client meetings, creative work sessions and collaboration. It will also encourage time blocking, designating times for meetings during a “Meeting Zone” in the morning” and early afternoon.
These types of changes likely reflect the kinds of changes agencies will implement to work and office culture upon their (eventual) gradual and limited return to the office and mark an interesting early barometer for how much agencies are willing to evolve – and what talent should expect. Given the seismic shifts of 2020, a return to anything resembling a pre-pandemic status quo could mean losing talent to agencies willing to invest in progressive changes to work and office culture.