4.25.20: What Might Re-Entry Look Like Post-COVID-19?

April 25, 2020

Another Saturday. But at least here in Minnesota, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the promise of sustained warmth brings about just a wee bit of optimism, albeit somewhat mentally manufactured.

All of this makes us wonder: when will we be normal again? As the owner of a business, I know that it’s essentially a combination of what the authorities say and my call as to when we reopen the Ciceron offices. In almost every facet of my life, I’m 100% ok with taking calculated risks. But with my employees’ and clients’ health? No way. 

In calculating all of the risks, we’ve decided that we’re staying closed for sure through May, and we’ve prepared staff that it could be longer. We’re simply going to listen to the scientists and our political leaders who are weighing all of the data. As I’ve said before, our Gov. Walz has been exemplary in his use of science and data to inform his decisions, and I trust him. (How rare is that these days?)

NOT EVERYTHING SUCKS

Earlier this week, I hosted a Zoom roundtable discussion with some of my favorite CEOs from the agency world to ask them about what they’ve learned so far through business quarantine and what they hope to maintain even when they reopen. On the panel was Nancy Lyons, CEO, Clockwork; Jarrod and Season Lopiccolo, owners, Noble Studios; and Matt Kelly, founder, Street Factory Media. We also conducted a staff survey at Ciceron of what people like, dislike, miss, don’t miss, and hope for the future as we reenter the workplace in some undefined timeline.

Here are some takeaways:

 

  • People don’t hate working from home. In fact, in our survey, people feel more productive. They have better control over their time with fewer distractions that come from a busy office. 
  • They don’t hate their kids…but sure wish they had daycare or school to go to. Kids are the most wonderful little critters ever, but there’s a reason we don’t mix family and work. It’s very difficult to be 100% a good mom or dad and 100% great co-workers all at once. My kids are older now. So the gold medals go to these parents who are trying to do it all.
  • Loud/quiet issues. Agencies tend to be boisterous places. Much more so than our clients’. We believe this is a good thing, but guess what? Not so much for everyone. All the panelists agreed that we’re going to have to rethink our office layouts, providing quiet places for people who need it to maximize their abilities to do their best, and then more open places for people who thrive under the louder conditions of collaboration. Current environments tend to gravitate more towards the open/loud concept, but especially for agencies like ours that have equal respect for the right-brained sided folks as we do the creative and idea types, we need to rethink everything out of respect.
  • We trust people. Those are some loaded words. In every office, there are those people who keep score on when people arrive, when they leave, how long their breaks are, and so on. I tend to get to the office pretty early each morning, and when I’m not the first person there, I’m impressed by those who are already there. That’s wrong. I’m wrong. People do their best at different times under different conditions. The absolute fact of the matter is that work hasn’t suffered under quarantine. In fact, in some areas, work has improved. So if I’m a legit CEO, wouldn’t I embrace that which creates the optimum work output? I and others within our agencies have learned that we now truly trust people. Not lip-service like before. But we really do. Having work flexibility is going to be something we take back with us. (Here’s a big secret: I’m way more productive at home than in the office. But I also understand that my role does not largely involve production but culture leadership and other soft skills.)
  • Client responsiveness is amazing. I’m not going to lie. You client readers have been super responsive. I think it’s because you’re not in meetings all the time. You’re sitting in your home offices just like the rest of us. You make decisions faster. You’re available. You seem to have more time to engage in thoughtful work. Of course, maybe it’s because the work we’re doing for you right now is, I dunno, more critical? I can tell you that it’s been amazing and refreshing, and we wish it would never go away. But we know some will have to as your offices reopen and to some extent you’ll need to get back to the busy-ness of being leaders of your own organizations. We will too. But I think we’ll look back on this time as a time of extreme productivity and engagement, and we really don’t want to lose that.

 

 

BACK TO BUSINESS

Lots more research and data is coming out on the effects of the pandemic on marketing and advertising. Here are a few for some weekend reading…

The Motherload of All Social Media Prognostications. I downloaded the report here for you but be aware that you should definitely be an eMarketer subscriber.

COVID-19 Fallout: How Badly It’s Shaking Ad Industry Across Regions And Categories (from MediaPost)

 

CONCLUSION

We’ve banned the term “new normal” at Ciceron. It’s dumb. There’s nothing normal about any of this. I feel very Zen Winnie the Pooh right now.  Everything just IS. And you roll with it. I’m learning not to try and control the things I can’t, and just focus on those things that I can. It’s liberating in that sense. Oh. And don’t watch Presidential briefings. And don’t ingest Lysol.

Our best,

Andrew