Ogilvy Paris Reopened Last Week. Here's How the Agency Is Operating Differently

Safety protocols for a slowly reintegrating team

Is your agency or company managing a reopening process? We'd like to hear from you about what your plans are.

With many countries easing restrictions on at-work activities for non-essential businesses during Covid-19, Muse is checking in with creative companies to hear about their reopening plans.

Today, we speak with Matthieu Elkaim and Emmanuel Ferry, the co-presidents of Ogilvy Paris.

Muse: What's been your broad plan for reopening the agency?

Matthieu Elkaim and Emmanuel Ferry: After several weeks of hard work with HR and general services, integrating all the governmental recommendations to make sure we were 150 percent safe, Ogilvy Paris reopened on Monday, May 25. 

The Friday before our reopening, on our agency weekly Zoom fireside, we gave a virtual tour of the agency—the kind where you hold your laptop up high to show your surroundings. Empty, as it was just a few of us making final spot checks at the agency: masks, floor markings, hydroalcoholic gel, social distancing spacing, throughout-the-day programmed air ventilation and space sanitizing, common areas now restricted … everything is ready. "We can't wait for everyone to come back gradually. It's not the same without you!"

What specific precautions are you taking?

For those of us who wish to come to the agency, we have an official deconfinement agency protocol summarizing everything that has been done for their safety:

• Flexible working hours to avoid peak transport times.
• Creation of a large bicycle parking lot on the ground floor, as most prefer to avoid public transport.
• Only four floors out of our nine-floor space are open for the moment.
• Working areas are physically social distanced.
• Two people max per elevator. One person at a time in the kitchen area. The coffee machines are blocked from use.
• Office doors will remain open to avoid touching the handles.
• Programmed air ventilation of the space, 15 minutes every two hours.
• Dispensers of hydroalcoholic gels fixed on the walls on each floor.
• Wearing a mask is mandatory and made available by the agency.
• Disinfection of the office every day, every evening.
• In meetings we respect the rule of one chair out of two for the proper social distancing measurement imposed by the government.
• For the moment, no visits to clients, and no clients at the agency.
• Thermometers are available for employees who do not feel well.

Of course, we cannot foresee everything. Common sense and a sense of responsibility will remain the best way to protect us collectively.

Do you expect a portion of staff to keep working remotely?

Teleworking is still the norm. Any return to the agency is only on a voluntary basis. An internal agency survey we did while the office was closed revealed that, over the past few months, even though we love our job, working on our own takes a lot of the fun out of it. Having said this, for the moment, the feedback we have received shows that very few people expect to be back in the office immediately. So, we're coming back very gradually. Through the end of June, the number of employees at the agency should not exceed 20 percent. After June, we'll see.

When do you expect production to open up that will allow you to shoot again? Will it look a lot different than it used to?

Print, sound and post-production sessions can be carried out at the agency's in-house production company, H&O, under protocol-specified conditions. Film and photo shoots are possible in-house. Remote video solutions are being studied to allow everyone to participate in the shooting.

There are currently many discussions with the producers unions and technicians. There will be new ways of doing things: Filming locations will certainly no longer be on the other side of the world; we will rediscover France and promote French talent. The government is also discussing a reduction in social security charges, taxes on shooting abroad, and insurance companies are starting to offer compensation solutions.

What have you learned from working from home that you'll retain as an agency going forward?

The use of technology in our daily work life. A better integration of work/life balance and flexibility in our daily work. Bizarrely, this crisis brought us closer to each other. Communicating via Zoom, we feel we got closer to each other, getting to know people better in their daily life and routine, understanding their life in a more intimate way. We'll come back closer than when we left.

Have any particular processes, tools, platforms or services proven useful for the agency during quarantine?

• Weekly tips from Ogilvy Business Technology to optimize working remotely.
• VPN to remotely access the agency's network drives.
Teams and OneDrive to collaborate.
Zoom 5.0 for online meetings and conference calls.
Slack; SharePoint; Miro for workshops.
Bloomin for internal surveys. 

Broadly speaking, what kind of work are your clients asking for right now, and how will returning to the office help you deliver it?

We are having a lot of consulting/planning workshops to map/understand tomorrow's reality with clients. They are also asking us to help think about their purpose in this environment. They want to have a clear and readable contribution to the world they live in. They know it's going to be a condition to reengage the consumer in a post-Covid world. As an agency, being all together helps a lot in these circumstances.

Where do you see the industry and its creative output in 6-12 months?

During these months of confinement, we have learned to do our job even more efficiently. We have become more creative in the way we operate. Creativity is about finding solutions under constraints. The time we have lived through couldn't be a better boot camp for us and our clients—more agility in the work flow, more creativity in the solutions we provide and in the way we produce/craft them. Our industry has the opportunity to come out stronger from this period.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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