Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun Discusses the ‘Future of Our Work’

By Erik Oster Comment

Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun gave the latest of his video addresses to the holding company on Sunday, addressing how the coronavirus pandemic will change the way Publicis Groupe works, “not only during the crisis but also after.”

Sadoun explained that in the short term, Publicis Groupe is asking everyone to work from home as much as possible, echoing an early address to Publicis Groupe on May 10. As countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions, the holding company will reopen one office per city, which Sadoun explained is “to be used exceptionally, for essential meetings, technical support” or for those employees who find it impossible to work from home.

Promising not to “take any risk” with employee health, Sadoun announced that Publicis Groupe will allow employees to work from home for the remainder of the year, should they need to. This is the first time that Sadoun has announced that staff can work from home for the remainder of the year. He reaffirmed that office return policy will be determined at the local level, with individual office leaders responsible for adapting policies to local sensitivities and contexts.

Sadoun addressed the survey that the holding company launched to get employee feedback on how it will work in the future, stating that over 25,000 employees have already submitted responses.

“Those early results are already reshaping work as we know it,” he said, adding that 75% of respondents want to “work differently.”

Acknowledging that some employees want more radical changes than others, Sadoun cited working from home more often as one point of consensus, with 89% saying they’d like to work more remotely, if possible. Over half of the respondents cited daily commutes as one of the main reasons for this.

“If we can remove one of the biggest pain points in daily life, it should absolutely be considered,” Sadoun said. He added that “we have to be careful and face the fact that working from home has created a difficult work-life balance,” citing 53% of survey respondents saying they find it hard to “switch off outside of business hours.” Only one in four employees indicated that they have a dedicated workspace at home. Sadoun also cited issues with social connection, with 61% finding it harder to feel socially connected and 42% missing the agency office life’s spontaneity.

“We have a duty to address the challenges working from home can generate,” Sadoun said while finding some positivity in the fact that 71% of employees noted that physical distance had not impacted the ability to collaborate effectively, something he attributed to “The Power of One and the culture that Marcel inspires and will continue to drive.”

Sadoun promised to share more details of the survey with managers during a Friday Q&A session and that Publicis Groupe will present “a clear plan with concrete actions for the future” this summer. He closed by thanking Publicis Groupe employees for participating in the survey, stressing it is “not just a survey but a way for us to disrupt the conventions of work … and write our future together.”

In addition to Sadoun’s earlier address concerning Publicis Groupe’s approach to reopening its offices, the video also follows an internal memo from IPG CEO Michael Roth earlier this month in which he said the holding company “would not rush back” to its offices and one from Omnicom CEO John Wren addressing Omnicom’s plans for a gradual reopening.

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