As a return to offices becomes possible in many parts of the world, companies are facing a decision on how to approach the future of work. Many, it seems, want to return to the past.
Employees in this industry and others have been vocal about their need for greater flexibility after a year that has disproved myths about remote productivity. At R/GA, we take that seriously. So we’re actually listening to our people and embracing the challenges and potential in creating a better way to work that allows our talent the flexibility to thrive, not only as employees but as people.
As we prepare to re-open our New York headquarters in the coming months, we’re introducing a truly hybrid work model which provides true flexibility for employees to determine the work environment which allows them to deliver the best work for our clients. Our approach was informed by and designed around conversations with employees about their needs and expectations in returning to work in a hybrid environment.
Why We’re Doing This
R/GA believes in designing a more human future of work: one that presents a more level playing field for all employees. This moment is an opportunity to innovate how we operate and redesign how we work collaboratively as a global network of talent.
Many companies are saying they will pursue a “hybrid model” going forward but still requiring employees to work from the office for a set number of days per week. A true hybrid model doesn’t include fixed office attendance. You’re not a hybrid workplace if you’re taking a roll call. Some companies are pursuing this approach because they believe it’s necessary to maintain their creative culture while others seem to hold on to productivity concerns. Unless their culture or productivity collapsed over the course of the past year and a half, we think it’s fair to say those beliefs are misguided.
We’re letting our people decide for themselves how and where they and their teams work best. This could mean anything from people working remotely one day a week to five days, or that teams will rotate working in the office or at the client’s a few days a week. We believe people do their best work when they have input into their in-office and remote schedule. Employees can also choose to pursue remote work arrangements in places outside commuting distance from any R/GA office, allowing them to relocate and for us to cast a wider net for recruitment.
We believe true culture and creativity aren’t tied to an office but come from the ways we interact and work together, that greater autonomy enables creativity and innovation and that we all work best when allowed to be authentic and given room to breathe. R/GA is proud to embrace a truly hybrid, more human way of working that will allow our people to thrive. We know that this flexible approach isn’t just what’s best for them, but also for our work and our clients.
Lessons From The Past Year
Since closing our offices in March of 2020, we’ve learned that we can work effectively from anywhere. R/GA thrived while working remotely, resulting in our best year yet for new business in 2021 and work which was recognized with ten Cannes Lions awards, including a Grand Prix, as well as our most awarded year ever at The One Show.
In many ways, new ways of working brought us closer than ever and R/GA now functions more like a global network without boundaries. We have always prioritized collaboration and functioned as a connected network since we opened our first international office. We saw a 140% increase in network collaboration since the start of the pandemic, with 38% of all projects including talent from across multiple offices.
While a return to the old ways of working may work for other companies, for us it would be a missed opportunity to innovate and disrupt old models based on outdated ideas. We will continue collaborating with talent across different offices and expand the pool from which we’re recruiting. We’re realistic about the challenges ahead and see tremendous opportunities for positive change
How We’re Doing This
The pivot to remote work across the network was in many ways simpler than the transition to a hybrid model will be.
As some of Slack and Zoom’s first customers, we already had the tools and culture to work remotely — as many of our employees did before the pandemic, including pivotal leaders. The challenge ahead will be to ensure a hybrid work environment is equitable and works best for everyone, which will require further investments and innovation to solve for both anticipated and unforeseen logistical challenges.
Our New York headquarters are being redesigned with this goal in mind. We are centering the physical space around culture, innovation, collaboration and key moments for when our people will most likely want to be in the office, for team building, project milestones, special events and immersive learning.
We’re committed to providing the resources necessary to ensure equal opportunities for advancement and recognition for all employees, whether they’re working primarily in the office or completely remote. To that end, we’re investing in both technological innovations and management training.
We’ll continue listening to our people as we evolve our approach to ensure we’re making the office work for people working in-person and remotely. We don’t expect to get everything right immediately. But we already know that the old way of working can’t work for the future. And we’re committed to working better. We hope others will join us in embracing work models allowing for greater flexibility, access and inclusion by giving employees the freedom to determine how they work best. And if not, it just so happens that we’re actively hiring across many roles.