Arthur Sadoun: 'We have exhausted everything that remote work can teach us'

Publicis Groupe will 'not be a Zoom company' or '100% in-office company', CEO said in video.

The chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, owner of PR agency MSLGROUP, has refused to declare what he is calling an "extreme position" in terms of a return to the office once the coronavirus outbreak is no longer a threat on lives.

In a video message (filmed from the Chicago office) delivered to all staff today (Wednesday), Arthur Sadoun referred to Twitter's "work from home forever" policy and Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings calling working from home a "pure negative".

Sadoun said: "For once, I am not going to be controversial and do not stand in either of these camps. What is certain is that Publicis will not be a Zoom company. Nor will Publicis be a 100% in-office company."

He added that once a vaccine has been widely distributed, employees will return to the office as their "primary place of work", but remote working and Publicis artificial-intelligence platform Marcel "will be an integrated part of our daily work culture".

"Our offices will once again be the centre and heartbeat of work life," Sadoun explained. "We are in the people business, where collaboration, human interactions and intelligent creative collisions are critical to what we do and make.

"While we have learned how to work effectively remotely, we have also seen its limitations. We have exhausted everything that remote work can teach us.

"And once we have a vaccine, we will need to get back to our offices to unleash our shared potential, to achieve more than what we can do alone, preserve the culture of our agencies and to work for something greater than ourselves."

Sadoun said that until there is a vaccine, staff should be free to decide what is right for them and their situation, and leaders should be flexible and put safety first at a local level.

Currently, Publicis employees in China are back in the office; in Europe it is 20% and in the US just 3%.

Earlier this week, Campaign reported that Ogilvy will be implementing a 3:2 working model, when possible, in which staff are encouraged to work at the office two days a week.

A version of this article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign

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