Is the future of talent frictionless? Q and A with Laundry Service

From Juan Pellerano, Account Supervisor, Laundry Service

As agencies have faced recent financial hardships due to the current climate, how do you think they can make hiring new talent a priority?

There’s no denying the financial hardships agencies are facing, as many of us have heard, anecdotally and in public earnings reports. As the financial situation stabilizes – sooner or later – I hope agencies will be thoughtful about hiring new, diverse candidates. There’s going to be an unprecedented number of applicants for each role and agencies will likely have the luxury of choosing from an excellent pool of candidates. If finances do not allow for full-time hires, agencies should be better about normalizing freelance roles intra-discipline. Using the term “freelancers” at most agencies is synonymous with creative centric roles, but it shouldn’t be. If there’s a pitch coming up, consider a freelance strategist or account person. It’s easy to say in theory, but rarely happens. Freelancing is not exclusive to creative roles and allowing opportunity for freelancing across departments creates mutually beneficial partnerships between talent and agencies to: give opportunities to qualified candidates in need of work, provide a trial period to establish the agency fit with the freelancer and lessen the burden on existing teams that are already stretched thin. I know these are steps we’re taking at Laundry Service and hope most agencies will consider a similar approach.  

How should agencies address the issue of lack of Black employees in mid- to senior to C-Suite roles?

All agencies should be upfront about this issue and publish data based on their current leadership structure, that comes with an actionable plan to address the issue. @truecolors.official has done an incredible job bringing some of this data to light in a creative way. 

How do you think the new class of talent can reshape the agency landscape?

I’d start by saying, I hope we’re able to continue making room for a new class of junior talent albeit in a precarious financial situation. My hope is that we can continue bringing diversity of thought, creativity and perspectives into the fold. Once the global pandemic is behind us – whenever that day comes – I believe Gen Zers will bring an increased frictionless/WFH based approach to agencies and other industries alike. I’m a big proponent of the “magic” happening in the office, but also see a benefit of having a workforce that may be fully remote. I’m optimistic that the creative work across the industry will continue to thrive, if we enter a more semi-remote work culture. 

What advice do you have for the next class of talent entering the workforce?

I’d say to those that have had challenges entering the workforce, stay hopeful and keep at it. For those entering, I’d say, the remote nature makes it challenging to connect with your new colleagues, find mentors and build rapport – take time to get to know your team via slack, virtual HHs or other remote methods, as it’s imperative to build those initial connections for your career and create synergies with your immediate team. In my career, I’ve always found that the best work comes out when the team chemistry is high – do your best to build that or seek it out. 

What does the conversation around talent look like one year from now?

I think many of the tenants will still be the same of diversity and inclusion, since we have a long road ahead of us on those issues. In the immediate, I do think, we’ll find the conversation will shift to a frictionless talent base where portions of the workforce are in-office, semi-remote and fully remote. The pandemic was a crash course in remote work and I see a potential silver lining that will allow talent to work around the situation that best suits their skill sets and individual situations at-large.