How London agencies are dealing with working (and hiring) during the Olympics
As we know the world doesn’t stop for anyone or anything so how can we work together to reduce any problems that may arise with staff, recruitment, training, retention, interviews, availability if at all? The truth is that no one really knows how different our working days will be during the Olympics so all we can do is create a backup plan in case we can’t operate efficiently.
Here’s how a few of London’s agencies are approaching biggest event in London for decades.
Jeremy Willmott – Head of Creative Technology at Weapon 7
“The main problem is that no one really knows quite how bad the Olympics will affect things in London. Our agency is assessing possibly using satellite offices and how we can work productively remotely. Transport is the main issue though it seems. But hey we’re all arty types, we can just all get on our fixies and ride in right? I guess we’ll need to be more receptive to people turning up to interviews in cycle helmets and a fluorescent jacket”
We do know that historically the summer period for the creative industry sees an increase in freelance requirements due to holiday cover but we expect this to be exaggerated over the Olympic period. This has its pros and cons like anything but we all need to keep in mind that most good freelancers will already be booked up and the availability of others will be limited. Freelance projects may need to be completed in their own studios or from home as opposed to onsite. Now this is fine for designers and creatives who can afford to fill in the gaps in their spare time for clients but account handlers, producers and project managers will need to be onsite and travelling to client meetings to take briefs, therefore covering any personnel problems in this discipline might prove more difficult. We all have a pool of preferred freelancers that we use from time to time but our advice would be to start creating a backup list of freelancers you may need to use if your first choices are unavailable. This forward planning will reduce panic and over paying for freelancers at the time of need.
Stephen Barnes – Partner at Collective London
“It’s business as usual for us here at Collective, I’m sure there will be an impact but we have to plan around it. We will forward plan for work coming in the studio to make sure we get the right freelancers in if necessary. We are sticking with using common sense and recommendations from TFL which have been helpful to date. We have a policy that no 2 members from the same team should be away at the same time.”
The fulltime interview and hiring process is something we all need to be mindful of. Unless you are going to put recruitment on hold for the summer, conversations around who needs to be part of the interview process and when is best for candidates to interview need to be considered now. People will find it more difficult to travel to an interview therefore you may need to stay later after work or much earlier before work to meet your next potential hire. We would suggest Skype interviews or conference calls are considered if there is multiple decision makers involved.
Cordell Burke – Partner at Balloon Dog
“We are looking to setup a remote working environment for people that work in the Shoreditch office. Hopefully Skype will continue to work for us and our account handlers when dealing with clients.”
Research suggests that the larger agencies will struggle with the recruitment process with both freelance and fulltime hires due to the structure of their business and amount of red tape needed to get budgets and head count signed off. This may mean existing staff will have to work longer hours with less free time to enjoy the summer and or the Olympics.
Mike Cavers – Executive Creative Director at Lateral Group
“As far as I can see it’s business as usual – we are hiring as normal and the Olympics don’t figure at all in any of my hiring decisions.”
Smaller agencies that are more agile and agencies that already recruiting well and have a direct route to the Financial Director or agency owner will be able to secure people quicker. There will certainly be more flexibility needed from hiring manager as you can’t expect candidates to ‘pop’ in during their lunch break or make up doctor’s appointments as easily.
Marc Shelkin is a Director of specialist recruiter Twist or Stick, who specialises in finding great new roles for account management and creatives within the Design, Integrated and Publishing arenas.