As we get further into the year, it is becoming more clear that the advertising industry is trending a bit more toward the pre-pandemic way of life: People are heading to more events this fall, and many are even finally returning to the office, according to data from Digiday+ Research.
Last week, we broke down the state of work on the publisher side of things. This week, we look at the results of several surveys of agency professionals that occurred between the second quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of this year — and find a very different RTO picture.
Digiday’s surveys found that the state of work for agencies is in the office: Nearly half of agency pros said this summer they’ve gone into the office to work full-time in the past month, compared with a meager 7% a year and a half ago, while 42% said they’re now willing to go into the office full-time in the next month, compared with 12% in Q2 2021. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who said they haven’t gone into the office full-time in the past year was just over half this summer (51%), down from 76% in Q2 of last year.
Digiday’s survey also found that the desire among agency pros to be back in the office full-time has been a constant: The percentage of respondents who said they’re not willing to go into the office full-time in the next year has remained fairly flat over the last year and a half.
While the percentage of agencies that have gone back to full-time in-office work hovers at about half, Digiday’s surveys found that those who are working at least a hybrid schedule has soared in the last year and a half. Even in Q2 of last year, nearly a third of agency pros said they had gone into the office at least once in the past month. This summer, that percentage was up to nearly 90%.
This makes sense given the collaborative nature of agency work, which has also been reflected in the (very low) percentage of respondents who have said they’re not willing to go into the office even once in the next year: In Q2 2021, only 3% of agency pros said this, and only 4% said so in Q3 this year.
At the same time, the percentage of agency pros who said they haven’t gone into the office even once in the past year has trended downward from 38% a year and a half ago to just 7% this summer. And the percentage of those who said they’re willing to go into the office at least once in the next month never dropped below 50% (the low in Q2 of last year), but has trended upward to 82% this quarter.
Based on these results, it should come as no surprise that Digiday’s surveys also found that agency pros’ appetites for in-person business meetings didn’t falter over the last year and a half: The percentage of respondents who said they weren’t willing to attend an in-person meeting in the next year fluctuated very slightly between only 1% and 2% since Q2 2021. Meanwhile, the percentage of those willing to attend an in-person meeting in the next month was up to 84% in Q3 2022, compared with 41% in Q2 of last year.
And agencies are following through on their willingness to attend meetings in person: A year and a half ago, only 12% of respondents said they had gone to an in-person meeting in the past month, while 59% said they hadn’t gone to one in the past year. This summer, 69% of agency pros reported they had attended an in-person meeting in the past month, while the percentage of those who said they hadn’t done so in the past year dropped to just 11%