{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Agency leaders, why are you opposed to hiring permanent remote positions?", "post_id": "6017705040f5ff0022fe24c8", "reply_count": 54, "vote_count": 17, "bowl_id": "5565cfca8b2b9a03009acf57", "bowl_name": "Advertising" }

Agency leaders, why are you opposed to hiring permanent remote positions?

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It kind of goes without saying, no? So many parts of the creative process are possible but way less effective working remotely. Client meetings, brainstorms, pitches, late nights, full team reviews, records, edits, meetings with teams. Spontaneous meetings become impossible, general turnaround times double. It’s real hard to build rapport or any kind of culture working remotely. Dinners, happy hours, hallway chats, all that stuff matters. Sure, they’re possible when there is no other option. And for really low-hanging fruit type work, maybe they’d suffice. But as a client, would you rather hire the team that’s on the ground together or the one that’s scattered and calling in? As a CD, would you rather work with the team that can swing by or the one you have to track down for a Zoom call while you yourself are in the office? Even just basic conversation flows way less naturally over a Zoom call. Remote work works better than it should. Personally, I wish it would continue forever. But just because it can work doesn’t mean it’s good enough, especially when we have another choice.

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I think you’re wrong, aside from a few boutique or B2B or D-list places, because no big brand is going to give their business to an agency with no physical location or that has a few desks in a WeWork. The “save on real estate” thing is kind of a myth. Our big, shiny offices full of people are theater as much as anything. And while agency leaders have said “we’re working just as well remotely” to keep up morale, I bet you’d hear more gripes if you asked candidly. But who knows? Perhaps future agencies will look like Mischief, ten people working remotely that constitute an “agency.” I just don’t think you can expect big, conventional agencies to do this soon. They predicted this same thing ten years ago, when our phones and video calling made it possible to “work anywhere” and it mostly just meant we worked more. Things rarely trend in the direction of what’s better for employees and less profitable.

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Most of the “I can’t go back to the old way” responses seem to come from more senior directors with strained marriages, young kids, and longer commutes who have suddenly found a semblance of work life balance after years grinding away inside agency offices 24/7. I ask this as respectfully and genuinely as possible: why should an entire business and human collaboration model permanently shift to cater to your new ideal (albeit healthy and desirable) work lifestyle that you never cared enough to prioritize before all this? Conventional logic would say you would have otherwise taken action and jumped industries, gone client-side, etc, right? I truly don’t mean to victim blame, but if your marriages, kids, mental health, and free time were so important to you before why wouldn’t you make appropriate changes OR even why wouldn’t you see this as the sign you’ve been waiting for that it’s time to make your transition out before things go back to ‘normal’ ? Instead it kinda seems like you all now want to have your cake and eat it too. For those of you who this applies to, respectfully, what are your responses to this?

Ha. Wow. For a strategist this is the most short sighted response I’ve read. What about the fact that we always wanted that change but never could because our careers so heavily depended on being chained to a desk. And now we’re trying to pave a new path, for our sanity and our well being, but also, for the younger generation like yourself - so you can prove your worth on merit like we all should and not so much on how many late hours you put in at the office - how many days you worked through sickness to be there for the big meeting, to avoid scrutiny from your boss, your peers, your clients. For 4 -5 yrs I put in major hours at a top NY agency. Like 15-16hrs a day for very long stretches of time. Weeks - sometimes months. I nearly killed myself. I got promoted, won some trophies and made all the right moves and got to a pretty great spot. Could I have done that perhaps with a little less self destruction? Absolutely. If I had leaders lead the changing of school of thought and advocating for a better home/remote/life/office balance, absolutely. This is for all of us, our industry has crushed people’s lives. It’s time to take them back.

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I don’t ever want to go back to offices full time again. I can collaborate with anyone on a zoom just fine. ‘Culture’ is overrated. Let’s get past this idea that people want to commute to offices everyday and sit at desks and scurry from meeting room to meeting room just for a slice of ‘culture’. Offices I find are easier for cliques, politics and favoritism to take hold. Remote has evened the playing field for a lot of people where they are judged on their work and dedication. Not how many hours they’re at the office and who they hang and gossip with.

likehelpful

Acd which agencies keep their culture over zoom? Would love to know those doing it well

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I wanna hear the answer too

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It’s mainly down to client relationships and the need to foster them in person. Also, agency culture is harder to create remotely. I would also say the work can be improved by random interactions that come from being in the same building.

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I cant go back to the way things were.

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My hope is that agencies wake up and offer a hybrid office - if you want to be based at the office you can be, if you want to be remote you can be. It saves then cash on office space anyway. It’s clear the vast majority of our industry wants this, but it all sits in the hands of a bunch of CEO’s and COO’s who maybe be out of touch with their people.

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COVID aside: The nature of what we do as creatives is people. If you think that interacting through a screen 100% of the time is better than SOME actual face to face, you’ve lost touch with what we do. You wouldn’t zoom call your friends all the time instead of meeting would you? As creatives we lament the marginalization of creativity the creative process and the data driven scientific approach agencies try to push creative ideation into. Retreating behind a screen will only further the bean counter agenda. I’ve said this before but I think a WFH Mon/Fri and in office Tues-Wed-Thurs is the best.

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Oh heck yeah, sign me up for that.

To anyone saying you can’t collaborate remotely: don’t forget remote just means “outside the office.” We can collaborate at a coffee shop, a museum, walking around the park, etc. RE MOTE LY.

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They aren’t for some roles, like in my department. Been talking with several agencies across the country who are open to it.

likehelpful

In the past I much preferred to have staff “local” and in the office often. Now, I don’t care where anyone lives or works. Unfortunately, it will be quite a while before we’re all back in an office together. Perhaps never.

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Not agency specific but my dad is a CEO/small biz owner and believes that people collaborate much better in person. He knows people are productive at home but he just feels like his sales team seems to communicate more effectively when they’re right next to each other in the office. Also “culture” lol. But he is pretty traditional.

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We are trying to figure this out post-Covid. In the past we wouldn’t have done this, but are now open to it based on our positive remote working experience throughout this. However one thing we hadn’t considered but now have to navigate is that having remote workers in states where you don’t currently operate creates new tax implications. Meaning you may have to start paying taxes in that state which creates additional costs, not just the actual cost of the taxes but additional costs tied to having to prepare in multiple states. In the same vane because every state has different employment laws, it just creates additional things to navigate. I’m not saying agencies shouldn’t do it, but if you are wondering why they might not, this is one reason.

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😭

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It’s just a matter of time. If they want you enough they’ll do it. I do think there’s a need to go hybrid vs just remote. If you’re not local I’d discuss upfront on-site needs.

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While this is great in theory, reality is a lot of what others have said about checking in with a team to collaborate in person vs having to hunt them down. One trend that I’m seeing is freelancers and FTers double dipping during work hours. Had a friend of mine who freelances admit that she was freelancing at four different places at once. This would be fine except that three of them were for FT freelance. She freely admitted that Zoom life has allowed this. Little did she know that I was actually calling to book her. But after that admission, it won’t happen anytime soon. As someone in charge of p&l if I book someone for 40 hours I expect 40 hours worth of work not some phoned in shit. We had a FL team help on a pitch. They sent us the work. Obviously they had used the work before on a competitors brand because they left that brands name in a piece of long copy that the AD missed. Haven’t used them since. Personally as a creative I’m all for making that green while you can. As a manager in control of budgets, I can’t wait to get everyone back in the office.

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Creative. The FL gigs were supposed to be FT but she only worked on each for about two hours a day and put down that she did 8. That’s the issue. People are abusing the trust that the hours paid are the hours actually spent on the gig.

Because even if remote is strictly ok, the interpersonal relationships at work have greatly suffered, and for many people, that makes work more enjoyable. And it’s not “just culture”. Tapping people on the shoulder, impromptu brainstorm sessions and random shop talk are part of the creative process. There’s also way more accountability. Even giving people the option to turn off camera and go on mute makes it easier to be distracted and lowers comprehension and engagement. I think many agencies are going for a hybrid model and I think that’s the best solution.

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