Workplace of the future emerges

PRWeek editorial director Steve Barrett on the shifting values of PR workplaces.

Steve Barrett, editorial director, PRWeek
Steve Barrett, editorial director, PRWeek

The future of work is one of the biggest issues of our time, one that should be the subject of more national and international discussions than it is.

This has only been exacerbated by the events of 2020 and work environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marketing services holding company WPP says it will require 15-20% less space than before and implemented a £100 million global savings program across its real estate portfolio. Further significant savings will come from reduced travel and hotel costs. Other holding companies are following suit.

In that context, a best place to work is more fleeting and esoteric to define than before, because most PR pros have been working from their personal living areas, spare rooms and home offices.

But certain themes ran through comments from employees within PRWeek’s Best Places to Work 2020. Leadership was key in maintaining inclusive, developmental, diverse and empowering internal cultures, with staffers giving bosses credit for preserving salaries and benefits — or cutting pay for only the top echelon of the organization.

Firms that were already virtual, such as Columbus, Ohio-based Small Agency honoree Belle Communications, clearly had a head start, and others contributed to the cost of workers setting up their new home offices.

PR is a people business and the Best Places to Work have built a family style atmosphere where employees feel they are being taken care of. However the new flexible environments hastened by the pandemic impact the physical future of work, those aspects of leading effective PR teams will never change.

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