MANILA, PHILIPPINES — We are at the end of Enhanced Community Quarantine Week Three and every local business is trying to maintain a sense of stability and normalcy in their own respective organizations while following the Work From Home protocols. The local advertising community is among affected industries, and big changes had its leaders adjust processes and routines: briefings, meetings, and regular catch-ups are now regular occurrences on messaging platforms, and usual work environments filled with creatives are now replaced by laptop screens, and pop-up chats.
How will the advertising industry, as a business built on the constant exchange of creative ideas, survive this lockdown, and the limited sources of inspiration it provides?
Golda Roldan, Wunderman Thompson Philippines Chief Executive Officer, walks us through the procedures they put in place pre-quarantine, what this new reality means for the advertising business, and how the WTeam is pushing on with themed online parties, e-drinking sessions, and weekly non-work events.
Read her full interview below:
What measures have you been taking since the lockdown?
An escalation of 4 to 35 cases in the Philippines on the news the weekend of March 7 really worried me. So last March 9, our Excom met to discuss our BCP and we decided to recommend WFH to all our employees starting March 10 and implement teleconferencing. We’ve provided devices and VPN access to all the teams. Agreed on Finance policies to ensure continuity of transactions despite the remote working arrangements. We sent out our BCP advice to all our clients which they all supported. And by March 16, the office implemented a full mandatory WFH in compliance to the government declaration and communications.
How are things two weeks in?
Staying connected is important. I organized a daily cadence with my WTeam Leads to catch up on what projects were happening. It has been a busy two weeks since we implemented the WFH policy. Almost everyone seems to be in back-to-back meetings. I’ve had to remind teams to take a breather once in a while since the tendency of people at home was to work non-stop. We have our APAC Wellness and Remote Working Support intranet dedicated to supporting and guiding our WTeams during this period of remote working, providing practical advice, tips, training, fun to help enable us to work remotely and across the region.
What do you think lies ahead for the industry?
How this crisis will develop moving forward is unclear. I can only hope and pray that this crisis will pass and we can all continue to lead safe and healthy lives. People’s behaviors like WFH and social distancing seem to be our new reality. WFH also seems to prove that it is definitely possible to collaborate over conference calls. As WT, one thing is sure, we must help our client/business/industry partners plan for all possible futures and help identify opportunities for WT to help.
Locally, we have started working with our client partners to think about crisis recovery plans. Our APAC Team has started conducting a series of bi-weekly surveys of key APAC markets to track consumer sentiment and behavior as the situation rapidly evolves which we have shared with all our clients across APAC. We have also been constantly sharing our WT Intelligence reports to our WTeam and clients for inspiration and learning e.g. Pandemic Brands, Pandemic Paralysis, Virtual Gatherings, At-home empires, etc.()
How can communications help during these disruptive times?
Communications already play a big part in our everyday lives. More so, during this disruptive time. Communications essentially means sharing. It is also the foundation of “community”. So when there is no communication, there won’t be a community. Just observing social media and watching the news, you can see the sense of community growing in strength. We see a lot of people and companies sharing common values acting for the common good. Coming from our WT APAC study shared last week, it shared that we can take inspiration from our brand purpose. It speaks about inspiring optimism to improve people’s lives. That people seek acts, not ads. But ultimately it is about communicating positivity and care for people.
Any positive musings to lift the spirits?
As I always remind our WTeam, our culture is most important to us. Our four WT behaviors ‘Creative Bravery’, ‘In It Together’, ‘Listening’ and ‘Positivity’ have never been more essential now with managing our WFH setup. And speaking of positivity, sharing here some tiktok videos WTeam did on the first week of ECQ.They even created a Bingo Bonanza card specially for WT. Last Friday, we had our first E-numan over Zoom. I myself needed a drink to wind down after a busy two weeks of WFH.
Keep safe and healthy everyone!
This article is part of a series by adobo magazine exploring the different ways the local creative industry is continuing to produce content and service clients during the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine implemented to avoid the outbreak of COVID-19.