Philippine News

Design: ‘Designing our way back to the New Normal,’ Dentsu Group Philippines shares quarantine story and going back to the office

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – It’s been more than 100 days since the Dentsu Group Philippines last clocked in at the office, sat at their desks, and worked next to their seatmates. Like most agencies, they decided to lockdown before the news broke that the country – no, the world – will be under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The team shared their story below:

We can all still remember when our newly appointed Country CEO, JC Catibog called for an emergency network-wide town hall to inform everyone that we are testing out a work-from-home setup starting March 12. What a challenge for someone who is barely scratching the surface of the network; he is going to lead through this extremely challenging time. 

Most of us have never gone back to the office since then. It’s safe to say that the same scenario happened in all agencies in the country. It was truly a challenging time as strong leadership and management were needed to keep everyone’s spirits up. Regular meetings on how to move forward and how to maximize the situation were called as well as constant checking up on staff were done. Back-end teams bravely held the fort as segments of the business were unable to function at home. We are a resilient and creative industry, great at finding ways to make things work. For everyone, it was business as usual.


Then after the ECQ came the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) which allowed businesses to open and to operate at 20 percent to 50 percent capacity for social distancing. The HR team plus the executive office worked wonders in setting up a system in phases. First, they studied the sentiments of the team regarding the New Normal with surveys and created channels for people to ask questions and give suggestions. Then strict protocols were set for those who really needed to get their hard drives and belongings in the office. The extreme lockdown was over, but caution was still a priority for the Dentsu Management team.

Fabi Carino, head of HR, conducted regular talks on well-being and mental health called Mind your Mind for employees working from home. This proved to be so useful during those dark days of the ECQ. Merlee Jayme, the now co-president of Dentsu Mcgarry Bowen, reached out to creative heads to figure out what the office can do to help people get inspired in these less-than-ideal times. 

Throughout the 100 plus days away from the office and distanced from our partners and clients, the creative, media and social team of the network created a steady stream of webinars for clients, team members and business partners so together we can plan out our next move and inspire one another towards the new normal.

The lockdown may have relaxed so the economy can recover but this doesn’t mean we’re letting our guards down. We keep reminding everyone to be cautious as we reopen our doors to staff who crave for a proper office space. Attendance is not mandatory. In fact, we learned that employees themselves needed a place to regroup with teammates or to do a long video conference with reliable internet.

Most importantly, we learned from the surveys that creatives are most inspired by face-to-face collaborations. A short chat -even with masks and face shields- is an irreplaceable live interaction that people need, especially the creative heads.

Now that all protocols and systems are in place, getting people to actually follow them inspired the creatives of Dojo. Joey Ong and his creatives were tasked by JC and Fabi to create signages for people to know what to do when working in the newly sanitized office environment. This was a nice break from the waves and waves of commercial work they’ve been churning out for months. Crafted to their heart’s liking, the signages were designed to spell out the network name. It reminds everyone to always wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, practice social distancing, clean your workspace, and, of course, to keep on smiling even under a mask.

Inspiration is still everywhere, even during these challenging times. At the end of the day, this is what agencies do, we are the experts in making lemonade out of lemons.


Joey Ong – ECD
Aeya Fontanilla – ACD
Jogs Danao – Copy
Merl Peroz – Copy
Lan Damaso – Art
Ken Enriquez – Art

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