See Bailey Lauerman's Space-Themed 'Re-Entry' Campaign for Its Office Reopening

Hoping for a soft landing in Omaha

Management at independent Omaha, Nebraska, agency Bailey Lauerman expected that a return to the office would pose some challenges for its 40 employees after working remotely for more than a year.

Last month, BL welcomed back staffers—four days a week, on a voluntary basis. To show solidarity and boost morale, chairman and creative chief Carter Weitz spearheaded a creative campaign that drew inspiration from the images and iconography of space exploration.

"Obviously, a big shift back wasn't going to be easy, and we wanted to let the staff know that it's OK if it's a bit bumpy," Weitz tells Muse. "That kind of transparency and honesty is important because there is no hiding from reality. We're a creative business, so the campaign seemed better than a memo."

"In our planning meetings, the word 'return' started to get replaced with 're-entry,' and it kind of stuck," he says. "Plus, designing space stuff is cool." (BL is best known for its work on behalf of aviation clients, and once had a company jet, so for this crew, the sky's always been the limit.)

Teaser emails and social messages with lines like "From outer space to office space" appeared, with the team's "controlled meteoric return" culminating in re-training sessions during BL's first week back at the Landmark Center in downtown Omaha.

"The social posts were great because it was a way for the staff themselves to talk about how they were feeling about re-entry," Weitz says.

Free swag including caps, coolers, posters, patches and notepads sported an official "post-Covid" office-chair logo, while the return itself featured team building at catered lunches and happy hours.

Of course, management puts a premium on personnel safety, and holds bi-weekly meetings to study case data, set policies and address concerns.

"We have a very high percentage of vaccinated employees, but recognize that doesn't mean immunity," says managing director Jessica Jarosh. "So, we have things in place like temperature checks at entrances, sanitization supplies across the office, nightly cleanings, and size limits in gathering spaces like the kitchen,"

For now, unvaccinated staffers in the office must wear masks, no visitors are allowed (clients included), and employees get the last word on travel decisions based on their comfort level. And last week, management decreed that all staff, even those fully vaxed, must mask up in common areas.

So far, the program has run smoothly, we're told, and certainly the Bailey Lauerman Post-Covid-19 Office Space Re-entry Project (BLPCOSCREP) shows humanity and heart.

That said, it's become increasingly clear that we're not in the post-Covid era quite yet, as the Delta variant surges and cases rise in Nebraska and across the country. In recent days, office returns appear more tenuous than ever. So, perhaps BL's mission represents a test flight of sorts, offering a hopeful vision of the working world to come.

Moving forward, BL vows to maintain a positive trajectory come what may.

"Given the dedication of our staff and the quality of our work over the last 17 months, we feel comfortable that we can maintain a high standard no matter where our teams work," says agency CEO Greg Andersen.

"With where things were in early July, we felt it was a fine time for a lighthearted moment to celebrate getting back together again," he says. "If it is best for the health and safety of our staff and the public at large to go back to 100 percent remote working, then that’s what we'll do."

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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