Credit: Christin Hume via Unsplash
Job candidates in the advertising industry are pushing back against agency demands for more time in the office, according to industry insiders.
Flexibility including working from home (WFH) is a key demand, rating ahead of salary.
The media sector, despite the jobs market going lukewarm from sizzling hot, is still tight when it comes to hiring.
But still the big agencies are calling staff back to the office. Most require at least three days. Managers would prefer more (four) and staff fewer (two).
“It’s time for them to come back because we’re a creative service company, and we work better when we’re together,” says Omnicom global CEO John Wren.
Kirsty Tavae, managing director and co-founder of TKR Group, a recruitment agency specialising in placing talent in the advertising industry, says candidates choose flexibility over salary.
“Flexibility is still right up there with candidates choosing one offer over the other based on flexibility and the opportunity to be able to WFH,” she says.
“Candidates are asking for a hybrid working environment where they are only onsite for two days a week and three days WFH.
“This is a question that is asked in the first 15 minutes of the interview as well – wanting to know more about what agencies are still promoting a flexible hybrid model versus being pushed back into the office five days a week.”
Simon Hadfield, managing partner, DMCG Global, Sydney, says a happy medium is needed.
“It is critical that staff are back in the office (in my opinion) a minimum of three days a week,” he says.
“We’re a relationship industry and only by working face to face with your team and clients can you expect to produce great work.
“Some of the kids have still barely been in the office if they were hired in the last three years, so they need to reconsider what is normal.
“There is certainly still an expectation of flexibility and any businesses demanding five days will certainly find it challenging to recruit. Candidates are looking for a couple of days from home in my opinion.”
Lee Shorter, Aquent Australia's practice manager for design & development, says she’s seeing fewer permanent and long-term contract roles being offered as fully remote.
“Hybrid roles seem to be the new norm, rather than remote,” she says.
“Businesses realise that five days in the office isn't going to fly with their staff or potential hires but do still want to bring the team together at least three days per week.
“That is the case particularly at junior-mid level where businesses want to give people exposure to learning and on the job coaching opportunities.”
Aquent's Employee Experience Report of nearly 3,500 professionals found that 73% of professionals are placing more emphasis on where and when they work as opposed to how many hours they do.
“So what that means is organisations giving their employees some form of flexibility to work when and where they work best, but still having a workforce that is geographically located within commuting distance of an office to allow for face-to-face team collaboration, training and development,” says Shorter.
Jack Phillips, founder of production agency Snackable and startup freelancer booking platform Dexta, says remote working is now a huge factor in engaging top staff.
“For many in-demand freelancers with deep ties to agency land, it's now mandatory for a role to be somewhat, if not 100%, flexible for it to be considered,” he says. “For some freelancers, there is often enough work out there to be picky.
“In my opinion, this is due to a variety of factors. Thanks to the pandemic, many post production freelancers such as video editors, motion designs, camera operators, colour graders, retouchers and sound designers have moved away from larger city centres in favour of cleaner, cheaper or just different styles of living.
“Because of this, some freelancers simply can't commute to an office due to their location, while others now see immense power and value in having a steady office of their own while working with a changeable clientele. Less upheaval, less stress, less inconsistency.
“This goes for flexibility too. Freelancers often juggle multiple projects, delivery timelines, schedules and meetings at the same time so having clients that actively acknowledge and operate with a level of flexibility are hugely attractive. It often negates the dreaded 2am revisions.
“We recently worked with one very well known creative agency who uses their ‘remote and flexible' approach to working as a key selling point to attract freelance talent over straight up remuneration. In return, rates are often a little more negotiable. In this way, it pays to be flexible both as an employer and as a freelancer.
“In my experience freelancers have very simple asks when it comes to engaging in paid work; industry rates, flexible working arrangements, speedy payment and timely depositing of superannuation into their nominated funds.
“With more brands and micro agencies engaging creative freelancers than ever before, more often than not, they are getting it.”
Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.