Havas Group North America has ordered all employees to work from home this week so leadership can test if its businesses can withstand a government-mandated quarantine.
The remote work day will apply to all of the group’s agencies across U.S. and Canada.
An internal memo obtained by Campaign US states: "This test is to ensure that our businesses are prepped in the event of a regional or national quarantine. We’ll be testing for business continuity and capacity of our systems and tools in the event that we need to move to a remote work situation with immediacy."
Several of its offices will undergo professional cleaning in the coming weeks.
Staff are being advised to cancel all large meetings and stagger their work hours either earlier or later ("11am-7pm or 7am-3pm") if they have concerns about using public transport.
The memo stresses: "Do not commit financially to any future sponsorships, international travel or event or conference attendance until further notice."
It adds: "The health and safety of our staff and our clients is our top priority. We appreciate that the COVID-19 situation is uncertain, and we want to thank you for your care and attention as we navigate this together."
A number of agencies outside of the Havas network have trialed (or are planning to trial) remote working.
Most of advertising’s major events have either been cancelled or postponed amid health concerns. Earlier today, Campaign US reported that Cannes Lions plans to go ahead with its June date but has contingency plans for an end-of-October event. A call will be made in April.
At the time of publishing, more than 110,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world, with reported deaths totalling 4,292, according to the World Health Organization.
Almost 2,000 New York City residents are in voluntary isolation while 30 people are in mandatory quarantine, according to reports.
As of 12 noon today, the number of confirmed cases in Manhattan is 36. That’s 16 more since yesterday, said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has not ruled out a city-wide quarantine.