Exploring the right to disconnect: A media agency perspective
Jun 14, 2022
Of course, new Ontario legislation giving employees the right to disconnect raises a host of interesting questions for media agencies, ranging from our internal cultures, all the way through to business delivery. While this policy has been in place in a number of European countries for quite some time, introducing such a bill in Ontario will spur a shift in our commitment to employees, while also sparking difficult conversations with our client partners.
On its surface, this shift highlights the importance of individual wellness and mental health. Particularly considering what we have all endured over the last two years, self-care and wellness have become a critical piece of overall health and, as a society, we have established the importance of ensuring individuals can mentally separate from the everyday stress of their jobs. Thanks to the new bill, come summer 2022, gone will be the expectation of spending off-hours stressing over client work and emails. This is an integral shift, which will ultimately add value to personal well-being, support healthier lifestyles and undoubtedly have an immediate impact on our lives.
Additionally, this bill reinforces the shift of power to individual persons, not corporate entities. There will be an acknowledgement that one’s happiness is equally as important as one’s professional achievement, which in hindsight should always have been the case. Fortunately, the next generation of professionals have a stronger desire to follow their passion projects and convert them into personal fulfillment.
While this bill makes changes that are long overdue, what it does not address are the number of contracts and client agreements that will need amendments. The agency business is built on a work hard, play hard mentality – and, since the latter has been sidelined throughout the pandemic, working extra hard has become the norm. In truth, without a bit of overtime, achieving contractual hourly agreements that continue to be squeezed and scrutinized, will be near impossible without re-evaluating our operations and partnerships.
Since all large organizations will need to deliver policies this summer, including large-scale agencies and client partners, we will all need to implement new ways of working for our collective teams. For many corporations, the toughest challenges will be shouldered by senior leadership, who feel more pressure to deliver on the business for shareholders. In the agency business, we are trained to be an extension of our clients’ marketing teams, adapting to their work styles and cultures. Therefore, we will all have to work collaboratively to be successful and retain our talented teams.
While this change will foster a fundamental shift in our daily lives and business operations, my hope is that we can find a happy medium that is beneficial to all parties and, in turn, drive stronger, more creative work for the appropriate value.