Wardour: our pandemic office move

by Martin MacConnol – Jun 30, 2020

Let sleeping dogs lie… Don’t film with children or animals… Eat raw oysters only in months with the letter ‘r’... There are a lot of things that experience wisely teaches us to do or avoid.

To this list you can now add another: ‘try not to move office in the middle of a pandemic’.

We’ve just done this at Wardour and when lock-down is properly over we will be glad to welcome you to our new home: it’s a beauty.

Those of you who knew our old office at Drury House will be pleased to hear that with the lease up, we have shifted just 200 yards away to Kean House, 6 Kean Street, WC2, a very similar space with lots of light and a great London vibe. Full details can be found on our website.

The glory of getting us into our new home, lies principally with our CEO, Claire Oldfield, and while it’s been a tricky process we were lucky in one big way: just before lockdown we came close to signing on somewhere different that now would have just been wrong: too big and too expensive.

But that luck was balanced by numerous challenges. Here are some of the reasons why moving in a pandemic was a test.

1) Just finding a good alternative space was initially impossible because we were not physically allowed to do viewings.

2) Arranging the actual move, and clearing out the old place was tough when the pandemic meant you hadn’t got the whole team around you to lean on.

3) Sorting the fit-out of the new place when Europe’s supply chains have ground to a halt is no laugh.

Around all of this there was (and is) the day job still to do: new business conversations, HR issues, programme roll outs. All to be handled around a tricky move which should feel invisible to clients.

Some people might say why have an office at all? And it’s true it’s a weighty overhead and we’ve been working well as a virtual team for the last three months.

But we firmly believe that having a central London hub is right for us and for our clients. We won’t use the new space in quite the same way as the old one. Our old desks are being replaced by more flexible benches and Covid-friendly lockers for keeping personal stuff clean. Video conferencing technology will be more robust. We know there will be few days when the whole team are in the space at the same time.

But Wardour is an agency and not a collective. And a key part of our agency dynamic is having a creative space where teams and clients can get together to swap ideas and collaborate. Being entirely virtual for an agency creates risks to the culture and team spirit. For instance we have learnt in lock-down that it takes repeated hard work to stop a virtual team becoming something more akin to a federation of freelancers. Wardour is more than that and has been for 24 years: we’re not going to let COVID-19 change who we are at heart.

It will be a few months yet before we can throw the doors wide for a socially responsible house-warming. But bear us in mind. We’d love to see you at our new front door soon.

Published Jun 30, 2020

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