Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Edited by: Ekrem Dupanović
Today we continue our coverage of agencies’ experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. Many agencies have transitioned to work from home. This has significant advantages for our portal too. Our readership is growing. People obviously need information and find it harder to access when they are not together at the agency and can’t compare notes on what they’ve read or found in the media.
Today, Slaven Fischer, BBDO Zagreb, Saša Leben, Formitas Grupa Ljubljana, Žarko Sakan, New Moment Beograd, and Zvezdana Žujo, Communis Sarajevo, give us their low-down on the pandemic and its impact on the communications industry in the region.
Slaven Fischer, BBDO Zagreb
When the University of Cambridge closed over plague in 1665, Isaac Newton went back to his family home at Woolsthorpe Manor and that is where he had his major breakthroughs. The Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1840) brought with it a new way of working outside the home. But legend has it David Ogilvy never wrote a line of copy at the agency.
There are two conclusions we can draw from these anecdotes. Creativity doesn’t reside in buildings but in people, no matter where they are. And it’s natural for people for work from home.
From Ogilvy onwards our industry had passionately embraced new technologies. We bring together people in whom we have absolute faith.
It’s as plain as day, so why, with the Coronavirus knocking at the door, are we tied up in knots over whether our teams will be able to do their jobs, creatively and effectively, from home?
Because agency culture and interpersonal relationships have always been built within the physical premises of our offices, with little regard for the fact that, for more than a decade now, a large part of business decision-making and business itself are happening in digital space.
Contacts are no longer physical and everything is digital, so where should we be looking for new online expressions of our culture? What tools should we be using to encourage and maintain communication? Should we maximise flexibility or be restrictive minimalists? How should we deal with digital communication when things go wrong and we can’t just sit down with colleagues and thrash things out around a table? How can we use WhatsApp, Skype, Slack, or whatever else to communicate in an inspiring way to close colleagues that there may be a better approach, without offending them? Or, even more challenging, communicate concern and empathy?
We need to master all this overnight and apply it for an indefinite period. And once we’ve learned to work from home, or wherever, it will become a new paradigm for cooperation. By not tying work or collaboration to a physical location and by exchanging experiences, we can open up a world of new possibilities together…
Saša Leben, Formitas Group
As soon as the first cases started appearing in Europe, we drew up a system for alerting employees and protocols in all the agencies in the Formitas Group. We activated the protocols after the first confirmed case in the region.
We offered our employees the option of working from home immediately and activated our protocols and measures to ensure safety at work for everyone. Offices are disinfected and aired out regularly. We also disinfect work equipment and have asked all employees to clean their keyboards, mice, telephones…
Employees who have been abroad were asked to work from home for the next 14 days. Meetings, work lunches, business trips, and participation in seminars were immediately cut back to only the most necessary. Employees were advised to conduct meetings using long distance communication and telephone calls. Aside from adapting our work habits, our operations are unhindered.
We have prepared a full protocol to allow us to send employees home to work, which we’ve been doing all week. We believe we are ready to transition to this mode of work. I am aware that as employers we have a responsibility to our employees, particularly during working hours, and not to cause situations that could expose them to any additional danger. We’re lucky that agency work can proceed practically unhindered under these changed circumstances. The safety of our employees, their families, and everyone they have professional or private ties with is our primary concern at the moment.
Žarko Sakan, New Moment Beograd
Coronavirus’ impact on the industry in the region has been serious. I think Slovenia’s the worst affected and its economy has suffered the most. The pandemic’s impact is being felt in Croatia, Serbia, and the other countries of the region. Right now, most of the industry’s losses are from the cancellation of events planned for the first quarter, but I think this probably represents just a part of the real situation, because clients have suffered major losses in business and on the stock market. Our job is in contacts and communication, so it is a major problem that all foreign trips and meetings have been cancelled. Still, we are trying to think positively, and I hope that the situation will improve as the weather gets warmer and everything will be back to normal by the middle of April.
Zvezdana Žujo, Communis Sarajevo
A lot of companies, regardless of branch, are facing major business challenges since the coronavirus. Its negative impact is obvious even on the BiH economy, on our clients’ businesses and on suppliers, which means on the business of agencies like ours.
We have pushed back the biggest business and technology conference, NetWork, to the first half of November. Participants are still signing up and paying the registration fee. We even have two new sponsors. The FMCG branch has expressed an interest in TV and web advertising, so we’re currently reallocating budget resources to those channels of communication. Some people see opportunity where others see only crisis.
We’ve been discussing this topic a lot recently at Communis. Since the virus first appeared in Bosnia and Herzegovina we have agreed to act responsibly and follow the advice of the healthcare authorities. Considering that the schools and kindergartens are all closed, we’ve made a work plan that allows working from home and in shifts, so that colleagues can make arrangements and take care of their children.
We have cancelled all trips outside Bosnia and Herzegovina and business meetings, to reduce our exposure to any unnecessary risk of contamination. We’ve reinforced hygienic measures in the workplace. The entire Communis team is acting together, with discipline and without panicking. We sincerely hope the situation won’t last and that it can be wrapped up with the minimum possible impact on the public’s health.