Since Covid-19 and the first lockdown, we have to face the fact that the office world is turned upside down. What was mostly unthinkable to have a whole agency working completely remotely became a reality. No matter if you have a large apartment or a single-bedroom apartment…you have no choice but to take what you have and start working. So from one day to the other desktop, kitchen tables, living room tables or the floor became working spaces. Some are ok, some are more like that medicals would shake their heads in disbelief.
I´m one of those fortunate ones who have their own office back home (which is more than most of my colleagues had or have).
Since I got forced to stay at home, I started to think about what my working environment at home should look like. And as I´m a Gamer, I already had some stuff at home that makes working at home more comfortable like a gaming chair with back support and adjustable neck support. But I wanted more. I started to watch YouTube videos of people that show their desktops and I have to admit that I got addicted to it. So I started my desktop makeover project 2 years ago. Since I´m on a budget my process might be a little slower than the ones in the videos. But that´s ok. I´m not in a hurry. Most of my equipment (nearly everything) I got from eBay-Kleinanzeigen. Took some time but I save quite a lot of money.
Today, I think I can say that I not only have a desktop that fits my needs (and didn´t ruin my bank account). But why do I write this? Because this is part of “the new work”. What was 3 years ago more or less an uncommon thing is a new “normal”. People don´t have agency as their main point of work anymore. More or less is their apartment more and more the center of private life and job. And as some mostly take whatever space they have available as their working environment, some (like me) started to build or improve theirs at home adjusting it to their needs and their convenience. And here it gets interesting. If you have better equipment back home and a much more comfortable environment than in the office, why should you consider going back to the office again? From an aesthetic perspective, my desk at home is already way cooler than my stereotypical office. But in the office, I have a height-adjustable desk, something I appreciate and I bought myself some equipment for my office that I use back home (which is a little bit crazy, but like I said, I like to have a workplace that fits MY needs and not what is decided by some IT-Guy or even worse some Controller that only looks on the budget).
If home > office you start to disconnect
So what might happen, if employees get working spaces back that are way more convenient and may be at least equal (if not better) equipped? They start to question why to go back to the office. They could save time for commuting, and end the working day on time without any remorse because you see their colleagues still at their desks. As long as you do your job, there´s no one to complain about it. But there´s a sneaky catch on this: You get more and more into an independence mode where a job becomes a daily task and nothing more. So your job becomes, well let´s say “ exchangeable ” … and things that become exchangeable have usually the habit that you exchange them more likely. And this is what agencies (or every office-based company) should start to be worried about. Usually, there are the 3 major pillars that create loyal employees:
- the salary
- the task
- the company’s mood/feelings
Salary for sure is important to every employee because it pays the bills. But the salary could be as high as it wants, if the tasks you do on a daily base aren´t yours, you can compensate for this for a small amount of time with the salary and the company mood. We all know that. But what about the third part? Personal view again, if I like my job and the company I´m working for plus I have some exciting tasks, I´m happy to accept lesser payment and won´t be unhappy about that because I have a fulfilling job. But if your company gets more and more “virtual” because you are sitting day in, day out at home. What kind of values is the company able to communicate in a more and more virtual environment? And are these “virtual” cultures and benefits enough to forge a bond between employer and employee that employees run to the next company if they got some more bucks on the bank per month offered?
Getting a job within an advertising agency these days is easier than ever since ALL agencies I know are looking for new employees. Especially within the entry-level range. And mostly entry levels are Gen Z people that already have a disconnection to “old values” like loyalty. They embrace “silent quitting” and job hopping as their defined career path. And those peopthe officee-office as an essential part of their work. So if the agency hires people that are already only a perception of a company as an “I give you a fixed amount of my time and you give me money in return”-thing it´s even more important to provide an environment that isthanre” then just the institution with the paycheck at the end of the month. Otherwise, your HR department will have some pretty challenging times ahead.
Create values that can hard be compensated in Euros/Dollars
Companies have to create a value that is only hard to replace with money. Not only for their customers/clients but the employees as well. We often use the word “soft skills” within feedback talks. Something similar needs to be reflected when it comes to creating a good job relationship between employer and employees. Back in my days at Ogilvy, it was the heritof the agency and the success of the agency that made usto workworking for this agency (and don´t forget the persona David Ogilvy that was omnipresent in every of), but as well as the global community you join when you made it to proudly say “I´m an Ogilvy.” Because wherever you go around the globe. Meeting other (former) employees of the agency was always like meeting someone of the same “brother- and sisterhood”.
Ask the former employees of Springer&Jacoby why they were that proud of working at these agencies. Even decades after this agency was history. They had a spirit that fueled them …
These are the values that are more than ever needed in today’s agency environment. Disconnected employees do their job for what they are hired for…no question about it. But as fast as they may appear, they might be gone if the next paycheck is higher at another agency.
The secret to great values and loyal employees
The secret to getting a constant and loyal team is……
Do you think I have THIS solution? If this would be the case, I wouldn´t write it down. Instead, I would start a consulting business and get a sh**load of money out of it. No, I don´t know. And as much as I appreciate whole that sell you “their 100% bulletproof strategy” for this topic, I´m pretty sure there isn´t any. Each company has different factors that have to be considered. But I mean some basic factors might chip into this “secret”.
Honesty & Trust
An environment where people trust each other can be beneficial. I´m pretty sure that an environment where you always have to watch your back because some supervisor or colleague is only waiting to screw you up might not be the best place to work at. And: KEEP YOUR WORD! Nothing is more devastating to morale than setting goals and then finding some sneaky slimy excuse.
If you have good team leaders…that´s cool. A great leader of the pack can inspire his team to eat dirt if necessary. But a good team leader knows when it´s time for that and gives his/her team the space to recharge ignoring goals and shareholders.
Good furniture, a chair that wasn´t made in the 90s of the formes century…can be beneficial. It doesn´t always have to be the 600 EUR Chair while IKEA sells proper chairs for a 1/3 of the Height-adjustable tables are cool and avoid back pain in the long run.
Reaching a team goal can be more difficult but is way more rewarding than an individual negotiated goal. It´s like playing Dota2. You can have the best carry in the world, but if your tank and your support suck, you suck in the end and lose the game.
I know…that´s a tough one. But frequent communication is (at least in my point of view) key. If you have the feeling of being well informed about what´s going on in your company you can focus on your job and stop wasting time on try to figure out what´s going on or even worse you fall into the “rumor-trap”.
An environment that could include those topics might be a good one if the mix is right. And it can be a reason for building up a good and healthy relationship between employer and employee. What do you think? Happy to discuss it!