Oliver McAteer
Mar 16, 2020

'The next few months will be tough': All WPP staff to work from home where possible

CEO Mark Read asked employees to support each other as COVID-19 disruption escalates.

Mark Read
Mark Read

Every WPP employee around the world has been asked to work from home "wherever possible" in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In an internal memo sent to the holding company's more than 100,000 global staff on Saturday March 14, CEO Mark Read said offices will remain open for business subject to local government policy, but it "will take action to greatly reduce the density of people in our buildings and the amount of travel to and from work."

He stressed: "COVID-19 is touching all of our lives. Our top priority in this unsettling time is your wellbeing, and doing what we can to mitigate the impact of the virus on our communities. Governments, scientists and medical advisors are asking companies to do two things: to help limit or slow transmission, and to keep economies moving and people employed so that societies are able to function."

Leadership has also escalated restrictions on business travel. Going forward and until further notice, there is no domestic and international business air travel without permission from company CEOs.

Read continued: "Unless in truly exceptional circumstances, that permission should be denied."

The new work from home policy and travel restrictions comes after trials in Italy and China, where employees have been working remotely for some time.

Some of WPP’s biggest clients, including Google, Ford and Unilever, have moved to work from home policies in response to COVID-19.

Read explained that "the next few months will be tough, but I have every confidence in our ability to come through this situation together." He underscored the importance of supporting colleagues and encouraged staff to get in touch with him personally. 

The CEO added: "We are all worried about our friends and family, particularly those most vulnerable, and working remotely has its own set of challenges and anxieties. I’d like to ask you to make sure that your colleagues are alright and show that you care about them. Small gestures can mean a lot at the moment so please do look out for each other. 

"It’s important and will make a difference. As ever, if you have questions please speak to your company’s leadership or People team or feel free to write to me."

The memo is in full below.

COVID-19 is touching all of our lives. Our top priority in this unsettling time is your wellbeing, and doing what we can to mitigate the impact of the virus on our communities. Governments, scientists and medical advisors are asking companies to do two things: to help limit or slow transmission, and to keep economies moving and people employed so that societies are able to function.

Given the growing threat, we are escalating our response and, from next week, we will be moving to a policy of Managed Remote Working on a global basis, and placing further restrictions on business travel.

Under Managed Remote Working, our offices will remain open for business – subject to local government policy – but we will take action to greatly reduce the density of people in our buildings and the amount of travel to and from work. Wherever possible, we will be asking you to work remotely. Where some functions need to be carried out in offices, your managers will work with you to determine how to cover what needs to be done, and will encourage travel at less busy times and greater flexibility in working patterns.

We will maintain safe office environments with greater physical distance and cleaning.In addition, anyone who has concerns about coming into any office may work remotely, in consultation with their manager. Next week your leadership teams will provide you with more detailed information on the roll-out of Managed Remote Working in your company, what it means for you and how we will support you.It is important to state that we remain open for business. I have great faith in each of you to adapt to this new way of working and know we will continue to meet our responsibilities to our clients and each other.

We have tested the approach in many offices and our experience in China and Italy – where our people have been working remotely for some time – also shows that we can continue to operate effectively, deliver to our clients and win new business.Let’s also remember what we can all do personally to help, like following official advice on regular and longer handwashing and social distancing, not coming into the office if you feel unwell, and observing the self-quarantine guidelines of your government or health authority.

We have restricted business travel for some time but are now moving to an enhanced policy of no domestic or international business air travel without permission from your company’s CEO. Unless in truly exceptional circumstances, that permission should be denied.I want to thank each of you for your commitment at this time.

The next few months will be tough, but I have every confidence in our ability to come through this situation together.We are all worried about our friends and family, particularly those most vulnerable, and working remotely has its own set of challenges and anxieties.

I’d like to ask you to make sure that your colleagues are alright and show that you care about them. Small gestures can mean a lot at the moment so please do look out for each other. It’s important and will make a difference. As ever, if you have questions please speak to your company’s leadership or People team or feel free to write to me.

Source:
Campaign US

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