To all of our colleagues, friends, family, and team members. Adjusting to life in uncertain times requires an inordinate amount of flexibility, patience, and tenacity. Certainly, we are all feeling pressure in our personal and professional lives. And, as people first and professionals second, we all understand the pressures our industry is under. The current situation is just another straw on the proverbial camel’s back. To prevent that last straw from breaking the camel’s back, a response to the entire situation is needed. That response requires leadership and that leadership requires direction. How our agency responds to this situation matters to our clients and us.
Agency / Industry Business Disruption
One of our core principles is agility. Our agile processes do not just cover project management, but also to business climates and environments. As the situation has evolved over the past few weeks, we have decided to return to a remote collaborative network. Many of you have been with us for a long time and that means, work from where you are, not just at home. While that freedom has traditionally brought travel opportunities to many of us in the past, that remote nature now means we have a great advantage in the marketplace.
For those of us that are located in the Austin area, our workspace and meeting space remain open to essential personnel but will adhere to any local, state, and federal laws. Currently, shelter in place policies are in effect, but when they are lifted we will most likely be under a distance/headcount limit. We will be requiring anyone not feeling 100%, including allergies, to work from home.
While some of us may be able to collaborate in person, most of us will remain remote for the time being. That will require minor adjustments to our workflow and processes, but nothing major. As usual team members are required to keep up with collaboration and production tools like Slack, Asana, and Gsuite. We do daily team meetings, weekly alignment meetings, and monthly brand team/client meetings. Most of our live remote meetings will utilize Google hangouts. We anticipate that many of our client meetings and pitches will follow the same suit. If you’re working from home, it is important to find a creative space that allows you to collaborate and work without distraction, where possible. We realize that kids, pets, and other distractions may be present. Do what you can 😊.
It may not mean much to some, but one of the things that we are most proud of during this time is that we are not planning layoffs. Our runway and business projects already planned for a 12-month+ projection. This has been bolstered by a steadfast focus by our accounts team on larger campaigns and projects in the creative space. Fortunately, these projects require larger team sizes and longer engagements. And because of their scope and size afford a certain degree of stability.
Proudly, due to previous creative excellence, hard work, and sheer determination, we are expanding our accounts team to handle an overload of bid and pitch invitations. The new business requests have also led to a recruitment push for experienced leaders of our creative teams. Priority is being placed on new business development, with senior team members leading pitches and responses.
To propel our acceleration and to meet client expectations during the bid and pitch processes, each team member will be required to have a personal portfolio website. This website was specifically requested by former CMOs of global giants like P&G, Olgivy, and Coca Cola. While many of you already maintain your website, those that do not can have one provided for free by Foundry512. The purpose of these digital presences is to grow our agency network, exponentially expanding our reach through search and social channels. It will build collaboration and training between senior and junior team members.
Agile is in our nature and DNA. We must focus our development direction to not only include creative excellence but also client leadership. Commencing immediately, the accounts team will be advising clients on continuity of business and digital transformation. While we cannot be certain of when the current situation may improve, we do believe it will. And once it does, our account team will team will be shifting gears in our leadership direction to tackling consumer confidence advantages, issues, and possible opportunities.
Our agency is located in Austin, Texas, and fully complies with local, state, and federal regulations regarding the COVID-19 situation. If you live in an area that is under local stay at home orders by any of these government entities, F512 will only allow a work-from-home structure. At this time, in the State of Texas, Governor Greg Abbot has put in place travel restrictions mainly from areas known for high concentrations of infection. Foundry512 team members should be prepared for restrictions to be expanded, including the possibility of travel within the State of Texas to be restricted. Locally, here in the city of Austin has led to the suspension of evictions and utility cutoffs.
A few protections have been put in place at the state-level for full-time, part-time, and freelance workers. Unemployment has been extended in the state of Texas to cover partial unemployment (hours reduced from 40 to 20 hrs/week), freelancer/gig workers, and furloughed employees.
At the national level, there are programs in place to aid small businesses with less than 500 employees. Currently, small businesses as defined by the SBA can access funds for COVID-19 and funds from financial institutions. It is important to note that large portions of these relief programs are forgivable.
The current estimation for the situation to resolve itself appears to be mid-summer. We are hopeful in those estimations but remain cautious in our internal discussions. This means that our agency will continue its efficient structure with a build-up of our accounts team and new business development teams. While we will not be participating in large scale pitches (most have been canceled or postponed anyways), we will be responding to many public and private RFPs that are received daily. Additionally, every team member’s network will be utilized to maximize relationships that provide partnerships and new business opportunities.
Despite the current situation, our agency and our should take comfort in the fact that we are actively growing and expanding. That doesn’t just provide security in the future, it brightens it. Foundry512‘s growth trajectory has changed very little despite this situation and we believe in a hopeful and prosperous future.