Interview today with Amy Littleton of KemperLesnik. Amy is the co-leader of the agency and oversees the Public Relations and Content businesses at KemperLesnik. She is a communications strategist, crisis and reputation counselor and business manager. Amy is the former president of the Public Relations Society of America Chicago, sits on the board of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and is co-chair of the Marketing and Communications Forum of the Executives’ Club of Chicago.
How long has your agency been back in the office?
We first reopened KemperLesnik’s doors in mid-June to agency Officers and Directors. During that time, we also installed plexiglass dividers between individual desks and implemented enhanced cleaning procedures and mask requirements. Once the dividers were installed, we split the agency into two teams. Starting in July, one team was allowed to come in for a two-week rotation, while the other team worked remotely for two weeks. KemperLesnik fully opened the office to all employees in mid-September. It’s been wonderful to see everyone’s smiling faces again – in a socially distant way!
What has your agency done to ensure the safety of your employees as they return to the office?
We require all staff to wear masks in all common areas around the office. The plexiglass dividers installed both in front of and alongside each desk help prevent the spread of airborne germs. We also spaced all employees out so that the cubicles across from and next to each employee are open. We offer bottled water, hand sanitizer, masks and gloves to everyone. And all employees check their temperatures before coming into the office.
KemperLesnik’s conference rooms are restricted to four members at a time, and have their own plexiglass dividers. Common surfaces are frequently wiped down and sanitized.
Of course, while all team members are welcome back in the office, we respect each person’s concerns and provide quite a bit of flexibility. The health and safety of KemperLesnik employees is our priority.
What do you value most about being back in the office?
The value of being back in the office comes in three parts:
· Spontaneous Creativity – Some of the best ideas I’ve seen materialize didn’t happen during a formal meeting. They happened because a colleague overheard another colleague talking about a movie they saw over the weekend. I can’t drop by your office or bump into you in the kitchen. I actually have to know I want to talk to you specifically, then call you, set up a Zoom or hunt you via chat. No matter how hard you try, spontaneous creativity is less likely to happen virtually.
· Relationship Building – I can’t drop by your office or bump into you in the kitchen. I actually have to know I want to talk to you specifically, then call you, set up a Zoom or hunt you via chat. No matter how hard you try, spontaneous creativity is less likely to happen virtually.
· Support and Motivation – In an agency, you’re surrounded by people who do what you do every day. People who know how tough it is to get that media placement or design a social media campaign that generates leads for the client, and they support you. The colleague next door can sense your frustration, and help you overcome it – in real time. Being together with kindred spirits is motivating. It helps when you’re stuck, overthinking or need a challenge. This is lost when everything is virtual. You are left alone to try and unstick yourself, which, at least for me, isn’t always the best solution.
Has being back in the office had an impact on your clients?
Even though we can’t interact with our clients in a physical space, we certainly believe the work we do for our clients every day has benefitted from being back in the office. KemperLesnik looks forward to hosting our clients in the office once it’s safe for all involved.
One of the industries we serve is golf. Heading to the golf course is one of the few sports we can do socially distanced, so we’ve had many meetings on the golf course this summer.
Will PR agencies ever fully “return to normal” or can we expect to see more agencies working remotely?
While KemperLesnik firmly believes in the benefits of working in person, there are certainly benefits from working remotely, which we’ll likely adopt moving forward. For example, using Zoom for video calls give us the opportunity to see our clients and prospects more often and without travel. In addition, giving employees more flexibility to work from home or at staggered hours is here to stay.
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