Event agency leaders shared their concerns over the impact of a second lockdown on employee wellbeing in our latest virtual session.
Last Thursday (5 November), on first day of the month-long lockdown in England, heads of agencies including DRPG, Touch, Ulterior Events, Live Group, CI Group, Smyle, Brands At Work, Make Happen and Pure Events, discussed the impact of the new restrictions on their businesses and workforce.
Most agencies have had their teams back working in the office for the past couple of months and agreed that being in a face to face environment had a positive impact on creativity, performance and wellbeing.
Under the new lockdown restrictions, people are only allowed to go into work if they can’t work at home. For agencies, this means that only people working on live production of virtual events and in studio settings are allowed in.
“Wellbeing is a major issue right now,” said one agency director. “We were trying to get people back into the office as it was good for them mentally. When we finally get past this, we don’t want people being in a bad place mentally, so we are taking action to try and prevent that.”
Another said: “We put a lot of measures in place earlier in the year around how we measure collaboration and creativity and output during lockdown. We measured those again in September and October again and our effectiveness increased over 50% with people being back in the office. People can do their jobs at home, but what they can’t do is collaborate effectively on Zoom. That’s a fact not a feeling as we have measured it.”
With many team members continuing to work remotely, several other leaders said they are also taking performance more seriously now and asking people to have more professional work set ups at home.
“We have a lot of young team members who after the first lockdown, went home to live with their parents. We have got people all over the country now. While I have been pretty easy with the working environment I have allowed until now, for example working from the kitchen table with their mum and dad walking past, I am getting tougher now.”
“We have been working through all our staff, looking at their internet performance, their backgrounds, whether they have decent chairs, and monitors. We do have a responsibility for people working from home, as much as we do in the office. But we are becoming tougher on whether we are allowing people to work at home. I do want people to come into the office (restrictions permitting). It is a much healthier environment for the mind.”
Other topics covered included difficulty in business planning and forecasting for 2021, with one agency head running two budgets, others being cautious, while some are predicting growth thanks to the explosion in virtual events.
Leaders also discussed whether the pent-up demand for live events would result in a rapid comeback, with several stating they think things will only come back gradually because of the concerns around risk and safety on the corporate side. One agency head concluded: “It feels like a vaccine is a pivotal part of the puzzle and will determine how 2021 looks.”
Given the good news this week that an interim analysis has shown Pfizer/BioNTech’s candidate was 90% effective in protecting people from transmission of the virus in global trials, a vaccine could be closer than previously hoped.