Digiday Research: The five-day in-person office workweek is dead

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This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Even with many employers’ (and employees’) fall plans in flux, one thing is clear: The five-day office workweek is dead in the media industry, according to new Digiday+ research. 

In July, Digiday surveyed 120 professionals working at publishers. Roughly a third, or 38 of the respondents worked for small publishers (defined, in this case, as having annual revenues up to $10 million), 39 worked for medium-sized ones (annual revenues between $10 million and $50 million) and the rest worked at large publishers (annual revenues higher than $50 million).

While significant percentages of publishers still haven’t told their employees anything concrete about their companies’ return to work strategy, a very small percentage of those that have heard plans will be expected to go back to their desks five days per week. Just 3% of the survey’s respondents said that was their plan. 

By comparison, 20% of respondents said that they can work from home permanently, a percentage that has doubled from where it was in April. Back in the spring, Digiday polled 105 publisher professionals using the same questions. Between April and July, the percentage of publishers who hadn’t told their workers anything concrete about return to office work halved.

On the whole, less than half of the respondents had firm plans for how many days per week they’d be in the office. Only a slight majority of large publishers have firm expectations for how many days they’ll be in the office, while just one third of the respondents from smaller publishers have clear ideas of how many days they’ll be at work in person.

By now, many media workers likely view these plans as being written in pencil. As the delta variant of COVID-19 has ripped across the U.S., a number of media companies, from Politico to The Washington Post to ViacomCBS, have either pushed back their office return dates or paused their return plans indefinitely. A similar thing is happening among agencies, which are being forced to adopt more flexible approaches as employees continue to take precautions to protect themselves and their families. 


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