Since employees have transitioned to working from home, how has the agency been helping them to adapt?
Laundry Service has been really supportive and receptive to suggestions throughout this entire process. The transparency the agency has adopted has been key. In the beginning of working from home, we got weekly updates on the company as a whole and we held smaller all-hands meetings with our core departments. Knowing the state of the agency and the plan for moving forward helped relieve a lot of stress.
Secondly, the effort of everyone to be on-camera during calls has made all the difference. From the beginning, our CEO Jordan said, “I want you all to be on-camera when you can be on-camera. Don’t isolate yourselves.” Getting to see familiar faces every day has helped lighten the mood even in the toughest of weeks.
We are all adapting to this new world. In the beginning, we were frantic, trying to understand what this meant for us individually and what this meant for us as an agency. As time has gone on, we have witnessed our agency stepping up and taking care of us. Knowing the leaders have our backs has allowed us to do our jobs the way we’re meant to.
How are the attitudes of employees evolving as the crisis continues?
The agency's positivity has grown over the past few months and with it, I have seen a shift in my coworkers’ thinking. With the heaviness of this year, we have all begun to reevaluate our role in helping to make the world a better place. We’ve realized that we have unique skillsets and resources that some movements are in need of. And we’ve really mobilized that. On one hand, LS is guiding its clients to develop socially impactful work. We have teamed up with Wasserman’s diversity and inclusion department to make sure our brands are entering these conversations in the most appropriate manner. But we’re also walking the walk ourselves. We recently developed the Pro Bono Council, where we partner with non-profits to provide strategic, creative, and media buying resources. Our most recent partnership is with The Vera Institute. Getting to dive into purpose-driven work has given us all an outlet during this time.
What has been the most challenging part of working from home for team members?
The best part about working in the ad industry is the people. Getting to surround yourself with creative and strategic thinkers all day long, getting to crack jokes across your desk, and go out for coffee with your team when you need a break from meetings – all of this makes long hours and difficult client requests manageable. I think my coworkers and I miss the energy that the office brings with it. I miss rolling over to my copywriting partner’s desk and chatting about KIND Bars (and eating a lot of KIND Bars.) I miss the happy hours, the late nights, the late-night dinners, and my boss blasting Travis Scott out of his office on Friday mornings. Trying to find that easy connection over Zoom is hard, but we’re managing.
(Second most challenging part is not being near La Bagel Delight.)
Have there been any changes made within your agency to ease the process?
From day one, LS made it clear that employees had to take care of themselves during this time, and the agency has put measures in place to make sure we can do so. From implementing manager check-ins to encouraging PTO whenever you need it, LS has prioritized mental health in every way they can. Recently, the agency announced that they were extending our Summer Fridays through the end of the year. The gesture formalized the sentiment that the agency has carried this entire year: your health and well-being come first.
Has anything been done to try and preserve the office culture? How has the reception been internally?
The thing about LS’s culture is that it’s not something that has to be preserved. LS’s culture exists because of the personalities of the people and the openness and accessibility of our leadership. We are not an agency that has mandatory culture events. We are just a tight-knit group whose culture is derivative of diverse people and personalities. And we respect the fact that we’re all human. That culture has evolved in our work-from-home environment to each of us being more transparent about our outside lives. We’ve learned so much about each other as we’ve been exposed to the realities that we live in. Whether that be babies attending meetings, dogs throwing up on our shoes mid-client meeting or moms asking for lunch orders while you’re on a call. We get it and we respect it and it’s brought us even closer together. We don’t live in these separate universes anymore. What was once defined as “agency culture” has grown into mutual respect and deep understanding of one another.
Are you planning to return to the office? Is there a plan to make some of the initiatives started during the pandemic?
We are planning to return to the office one day! We just don’t have a firm date yet. Our company is being very careful to make sure all of its employees stay healthy and have prioritized that over an official return date. We will definitely be continuing some of the initiatives started during the pandemic – most notably, in my opinion, The Pro Bono Council and our other social impact efforts. These will become a larger part of our offering as we continue to identify important opportunities for ourselves and our clients to create change.
What are some common mistakes you’ve seen from agencies transitioning to working from home? Do you have any tips?
First and foremost, let your people take their monitors home! It’s game-changing. And to that point, I don’t think all agencies are acting as human as they need to be. If there is ever a time for empathy, it is now. Some agencies are foregoing transparency for optics, and employees are feeling left in the dark. Agencies have been put in a position where they must choose to value their employees’ well-being above all else. Some agencies have made that decision, and some are still functioning under the pretense that this is a normal year. The agencies who will be most successful in surviving all of this will be those who made every decision they could to benefit the people who work for them.