This week (w/c 1/6) the government took “modest” steps in easing lockdown restrictions. In England, primary schools started to re-open and people can now meet in groups of up to six. Vulnerable people in England and Wales were advised they were able to go outdoors for the first time in months.

Many business leadership teams are now considering reopening their offices and are having to plan for a very different model to life before Covid-19. In light of this, we asked 1000 UK based communications agency leaders what changes they are planning to make in how they run their businesses in the coming weeks and months.  

Key themes that emerged were as follows:

  1. Remote working
  • Policy update with far greater flexibility on working from home (wfh)
  • For some wfh will now be defacto

  1. Office
  • Three-phase return to work mid-June to mid-September 2020
  • Re-negotiating lease terms
  • Space being opened to partners and clients as a shared resource
  • Mothballing
  • Moving out of office space

  1. People and Culture 
  • Focus on increasing diversity
  • Improved communication among team to work smarter, not harder
  • Global resourcing of freelance support
  • Ensuring positives that have come out of lockdown are translated into work/life balance in new world – in particular focus on mental health and well-being
  • Increased outsourcing

  1. Clients
  • Moving all community and stakeholder engagement campaigns online 
  • Tighter handle on profit margins to recover from the set-backs suffered in March-May 2020
  • Packaged services for clients and prospects who are nervous to sign up to longer term contracts 

  1. Costs
  • Tightening on expenses
  • Closer optimisation of costs (questioning prior practices and commitments)
  • Investment in technology

  1. New business and marketing
  • Expansion into new vertical markets e.g. well performing sectors such as technology
  • Adding a wider client roster
  • Investment in new products and services

Annabel Dunstan, CEO and founder of Q&R commented: “Clearly, leaders are working hard to get this right and are having to be creative on every front.  However, I was surprised to see very few comments on making the workplace safe for employees to return to.  I expect many will still need to create workplace policies and procedures, such as redesigning meeting room and co-working space to meet social distance guidelines”.

To help on this front, we have suggested a few return-to-office safety ideas:

  1. Staggering arrival and departure times to avoid congestion
  2. Controlling flow of people in hallways, in meeting rooms and around break out areas
  3. Employee and visitor temperature screening
  4. Providing nearly constant cleaning services 
  5. Maintaining adequate supplies of masks and hand sanitizer throughout the office and communal areas in the building

Notes: The one question Pulse Check was conducted between 1-3rd June 2020 among 1000 UK based communications agency leaders.