John Wren
John Wren

John Wren and the Omnicom executive team are collecting employee feedback for input on the return to the workplace, in some fashion or form, following widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Though there are bound to be new work structures in place, “we are thrilled at the possibility of being back together again in our offices, connecting in the safest way possible,” he wrote in a March 11 internal memo.

While Wren is eager to get the gang back together again, a survey from the Partnership for New York City found that less than half (45 percent) of Manhattan employees expect to return to their offices by September. Fifty-six percent of employees expect to work remotely at least part of the time.

Currently, only ten percent of Manhattan office workers are back.

The Partnership’s survey found that large employers are bringing their staffs back to work at a slower pace than smaller companies.

A fifth of workers at companies with fewer than 500 employees have returned to work, but only eight percent are back on the job at companies with more than 1,000 workers.

Two-thirds of employers expect to adopt hybrid work models and 22 percent of companies will require workers to return to the office full time.

Wren promised staffers there “will be lasting behavioral changes in the way we work, with our teams remaining more flexible, nimble and collaborative.”

He vowed that nobody will be forced to go back to the office unless he or she is comfortable in doing so.

Wren should take a trip to the Sunshine State. The folks at Omnicom’s Zimmerman Agency in Fort Lauderdale allege that management is forcing them to return to the office.

The reason: management blames the loss of the Party City and La-Z-Boy accounts on remote work.

While there is no explicit mandate to get back to work, Zimmerman staffers told Insider that management highly recommends that they do so.

Congress must do something to save “trustworthy journalism before it is lost forever,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the House antitrust subcommittee.

He backs the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act that would exempt news organizations from antitrust laws so they can join to negotiate compensation from Facebook, Google and other platforms.

More than 2,100 newspapers died from 2004 to 2019. The NewsGuild-CWA says another 60 have closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cicilline said the bloodbath among legacy news companies also impacts digital publishers.

He noted that the Huffington Post recently laid off dozens of journalists due to declining ad revenues. “These layoffs occur at a time when more people are online than ever before, and online readership is at an all-time high,” he said on March 12.

Citing Pew Research, the Congressman noted that three-quarters of Americans get their news online, through either Facebook or Google.

That gatekeeper power gives Facebook and Google the ability to distort the flow of information online.

“This means that Google and Facebook can divert their billions of users away from trustworthy sources of news with a single change to their algorithms, or through other subtle but meaningful ways, such as manipulating ad auction,” he said.

Cicillini blamed Congressional inaction and lax enforcement for triggering the waves of media consolidation and layoffs.

Noting the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, he said: “Our country will not survive if we do not operate with a set of shared facts, if corruption is not exposed and rooted out at all levels of government, and if power is not held to account.

“As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in 1927, those who won our independence believed that public discussion is a political duty, that the greatest threat to freedom is an uninformed citizenry, and that the freedom of thought and speech are indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth.

“This is the very reason the press is called the Fourth Estate. Whether it is an online publisher, national newspaper, or local broadcaster, we cannot have a democracy without a free and diverse press.”

Hat’s off to free press warrior, David Cicilline.