59% of ad agency employees working longer during pandemic, study says

Dive Brief:

  • More than half (59%) of employees at advertising and marketing agencies said they were working longer hours as the coronavirus pandemic led many cities and states to issue stay-at-home orders, per a study that professional social network Fishbowl shared with Marketing Dive. The percentage was slightly higher than the average 55% of professionals among all industries who said they were working longer.
  • Advertising and marketing professionals were among the knowledge workers who said they’re putting in longer hours during the pandemic, compared with consultants (61%) and teachers (60%). People who work in advertising and marketing were more likely to say they’re working longer than professionals in finance (55%), accounting (54%), human resources (51%), healthcare (34%) and law (34%).
  • New Jersey had the highest percentage of states whose workers are putting in longer hours at 61%, edging out Illinois (60%), New York (59%) and Louisiana (58%). Fishbowl conducted the survey of more than 16,000 verified professionals from May 14-17.

Dive Insight:

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted how thousands of professionals in the advertising and marketing industry work, though they are showing their resilience and versatility by working from home. Fishbowl’s survey suggests most of those workers are putting in longer hours, which may reflect their ability to work during hours that would have been spent commuting or getting ready to go the office. The pandemic has led many advertisers to pull back on their spending, but many marketers also have had to revamp their strategies and ad creative, putting pressure on agencies to develop new campaigns for their clientele.

The trend toward work-from-home arrangements may reverse somewhat as more cities and states lift lockdowns and companies bring back their workers in stages. Several reports suggest that the advertising and marketing industry is preparing to reopen offices in regions that rescind quarantines. WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic — three of the world’s biggest ad holding companies — have indicated they will cautiously proceed with office openings while taking steps to protect their employees, PR Week reported. Other companies like S4 Capital, the media company started by former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, are looking at more permanent work-from-home arrangements, The Wall Street Journal reported. The reports suggest that the pandemic will continue to disrupt how people in the advertising and marketing industry work, either remotely or in offices that adopt safety procedures.

Fishbowl’s study indicates that advertising and marketing professionals are working longer while also expressing fears about layoffs. More than 65% of advertising professionals were concerned about job cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic, it found in a March survey. Those worries were understandable amid the sharp pullback in spending on advertising as marketers contend with a slump in consumer demand and a likely recession.

However, the worst of the coronavirus shutdowns may be over as air travel, hotel bookings and mortgage applications start to rise after steep declines, The Wall Street Journal reported. As businesses reopen, they’re likely to increase their spending on advertising to help drive greater consumer demand.

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