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BBC News – Atomic London

BBC News interviews Atomic London CEO, Jon Goulding

What’s the single biggest challenge you face in lockdown?

Given we’re a 100% people business AND a creative advertising agency, the single biggest challenge of lockdown has been how to create magic when you’re working from home.

The more functional or process led parts of an agency’s role such as campaign delivery, status meetings, account co-ordination and even building presentations are all fairly manageable whilst working remotely and using Teams/Zoom/Google Hangout to stay in touch.

In fact a lot of my team find in some ways they’re more productive when they’re working from home, away from distractions and the general hubbub of an agency office space. But experiences working from home vary massively. For some, replacing the hubbub and at times distracting environment of an agency office space with the even more challenging hub-blub of looking after young children, house-sharing with 4 other people all trying to share the kitchen table and the wifi at the same time, means working from home has not been manageable for everyone. But I think everyone would agree that they haven’t missed the daily commute and enjoy the extra hours they have back in their life as a result even if it can feel hectic or isolating at times.

But the creative agency business isn’t really about just managing to deliver for our clients whilst work from home. The reality is that agencies have always been and will always be at their best when they create magic.

The magic of discovering a great creative idea when teams collaborate and bounce ideas off each other, the magic of the chemistry you create in pitch meetings between your team and the client, the magic of trying to grow an independent agency which only really happens when talent ‘rubs together’ to do things that have never been done before.

Creative agencies thrive on being able to deliver miracles for their clients, a brilliant idea that might otherwise be impossible to make or developing campaigns with unfeasible deadlines. The spirit of ‘it’s amazing what can be done in a day’ is what gives agencies their natural energy. It’s all part of what makes agencies magical places to work when they’re at their best.

And ultimately it’s this magic that stands between growth and stagnation, great work and vanilla content (note how many lockdown TV ads all look the same), between ‘feeling ok at the moment’ and feeling energised and motivated by a sense of progress and growth which whether you are a company or an individual is the only true path to happiness.

So whilst I understand and completely empathise with the upsides of working from home for a while, ultimately creative agencies are a team sport, and the sooner we can get back together and start creating magic again as one team, the happier and better the agency will be for everyone.

Jon Goulding, CEO, Atomic London


‘CEO Secrets’ is a regular feature by the BBC. Find out more here.