Sandy’s Aftermath: SapientNitro Office May Not Reopen Until Next Week

4As and other partners assist firm as lower Manhattan office remains closed

As most New Yorkers head back into the office this week post-Hurricane Sandy, SapientNitro’s 300-plus staffers are still tasked with showing a steely, post-storm resolve, working out of makeshift offices throughout the tri-state area. And Ron Shamah, office vp for the technology/advertising hybrid’s Financial District location, said it will be days before things get back to normal.

“I’m optimistic for late this week,” he said. “Early next week is the latest we’ll get back.”

SapientNitro is located at 40 Fulton Street—only a few blocks from the East River—where it moved 14 months ago. New York’s Financial District was hit hard by flooding from the hurricane, which also knocked out power out across lower Manhattan.

SapientNitro has been booking up conference hotel rooms across Manhattan and Brooklyn for their creatives, strategists and engineers to do client work remotely. Shamah said that advertising trade org the 4As has lent the agency workspace for a handful of SapientNitro teams, while some brand clients have also reached out and offered office space.

“In relatively short order,” he said, “we mobilized our group in a team construct. We [organized] strategists and creatives—that are focused on specific accounts— and placed them as holistic pods. There are six or seven of those pods at different locations.”

Shamah added that the agency's employees are “accustomed to working off-site. We are very often at client sites anyway. So we have kind of doubled down on those arrangements. It’s part of our DNA. Our clients and partners have been terrific.”

Technology has been irreplaceable in SapientNitro’s efforts to work around the hurricane's aftermath. Without the Internet and smart phones, getting work done would have been virtually impossible, Shamah said.

“Fifteen years ago, this week basically turns into a bad version of a vacation week,” he said. “The net effect on productivity and, frankly, revenue and billable hours…Today, it doesn’t greatly effect our overall contributions. It’s night and day from what it would have been.”

Meanwhile, the office vp lives with his wife and 10-month-old child on Staten Island, one of the area’s worst hit locales from the storm.

“We just got back power, so we are in good spirits,” Shamah said on Monday evening, a full seven days after the huge storm slammed the New York area.