BIMM and Media Profile create flex working models

New policies at the agencies signal a retention strategy that could help combat the Great Resignation.
Work from Home

The Great Resignation taught agencies in the advertising and PR sectors a lot of lessons. For some, one of the biggest was that it pays to know what your employees want – and to give it to them.

At two such agencies – data-driven marketing agency BIMM and Toronto PR firm Media Profile – personal freedom has become a key item on the agenda.

“Prior to the pandemic, we had started a one-day-per-week, work-from-home policy and we did that for three years,” says Roehl Sanchez, EVP, CCO and partner of the agency. “We learned a lot from that. Peoples’ work-life balance shot through the roof and that was great.”

The pandemic has only further cemented the value of a hybrid working model for BIMM, Sanchez says, for both employee retention and acquisition. Through surveys with its employees, the agency discovered “the idea of personal freedom with respect to where they work was resounding,” he explains.

Further, each of the agency’s 52 hires since the office closed due to the pandemic identified remote working as a priority for them.

But for Sanchez, it was important to establish a clear policy that is not “wishy-washy,” instead setting specific days of the week as firm in-office days, and allowing employees to have the freedom to work remotely the rest of the week.

As such, the agency developed what it calls 2in2out – a program that will see all employees report in to the office on Mondays and Thursdays in order to preserve the possibility of “creative accidents” that come about when two people are in the same room, while also having the option of working remotely for the entirety of the two months of July and August.

The in-office days will come into effect when pandemic restrictions lift, Sanchez says, noting that BIMM’s staff “don’t want to go back with restrictions.”

“Having almost 90 people in one space requires a certain level of liberty,” says Sanchez. “We don’t want people to have to wear masks or social distance, so we’re only going to return to the office when the regulations permit us to do that.”

Similarly, Media Profile created its own flexible model, with the introduction of a “Work Away Benefit” – a program that allows employees who have been with the company for a minimum of six months to take a month and work from anywhere in the world, with $3,000 of financial support from the agency to help cover expenses related to the stay, including transportation, AirBNB rentals or short-term leases.

While using the benefit, employees are expected to report to work within the usual EST business hours and are encouraged to contribute blog content about their experiences, but otherwise have the freedom to enjoy their time away. They can even add on two weeks of vacation time to maximize the experience.

Though it was created in part to encourage retention among employees stricken by wanderlust after nearly two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, the program is a natural extension of existing offerings that the agency has made available to employees “for a very long time,” says Alison King, president at Media Profile.

“Culture and work-life balance have always been at the core of our values,” she explains. “When I had my kids 22 and 20 years ago, [Media Profile] allowed moms and dads to take balance days, which are days where you can either take less pay and not work, or work from home.”

“As long as [employees] have the technology and commitment, I don’t see why they can’t work from anywhere.”