One door closes, another opens: Agencies reinvest in office spaces

Johnson & Sekin's Camp Purpose in Denver, Colo.
Johnson & Sekin's Camp Purpose in Denver, Colo.

While several agencies have shut office doors indefinitely, others have expanded their spaces in 2022.

2021 was the year of uncertainty for the office space. While many agencies navigated uncharted waters in attempts to safely reopen offices for employees, others opted out of office spaces altogether. 

Amid the Great Resignation and changing employee values, companies like Publicis extended hybrid working benefits, allowing employees to work from anywhere in the world for six weeks every year. Others, like Havas, championed a mandated hybrid return to the office, citing that the best collaboration happens in person. 

And employees’ values changed, with many saying they prefer a voluntary hybrid model, according to a PRWeek and Campaign US poll with over 500 respondents

While the office question continues to linger, the rapid spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant once again threatens the return to the office. Several agencies announced they were once again shutting their doors ahead of the Christmas holiday into the new year. 

But some aren’t backing down just yet. As agencies grapple with returning to the office in 2022, a few have already invested in real estate for the new year, reimagining what and where work will be like. Campaign US has highlighted a few: 

Johnson & Sekin 

Dallas-based advertising agency Johnson & Sekin has expanded into Denver with the launch of Camp Purpose, an immersive workshop experience meant to explore company purpose. The company invested in a 34-acre property known as Meadow Creek on the mountainside in Pine, Colo., to serve as its first satellite office outside of Dallas. 

The new space will also serve as an off-site location for teams from around the country to travel to and experience Camp Purpose. 

The decision stems from the fact that the pandemic has caused people to reevaluate the kind of work they do and why, with more than two-thirds of American employees saying it has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life, according to a press release. 

“We are incredibly proud to be making this investment in the Denver region,” said Chris Sekin, co-founder of Johnson & Sekin, in a press release. “For more than twelve years, we’ve brought purpose-driven campaigns to life for our national and local partners, their employees, and customers. Camp Purpose allows us to scale that impact to more companies, enabling teams and individuals to do their best and most fulfilling work in their career and in life.” 

Zulu 

Toronto-based ad agency Zulu said goodbye to its old office last month in a sentimental point-of-view montage of walking into the office for the last time. The office, which remained unoccupied since March 2020 had opened in 2008 as a 5,000 square-foot space, gradually expanding to 27,000 square feet.

But that’s not the end of the office era for Zulu. The agency recently purchased a building in one of Toronto’s up-and-coming neighborhoods. The new location will serve as a hub for employees to work as Zulu transitions to a hybrid model.

“Our new space will continue to be the heart and soul of Zulu. Knowing we won’t all be together every single day has freed us up to design an even better place for our team to collaborate,” said Zak Mroueh, founder and CCO at Zulu, in a press release. “Our vision is to make the new space feel more like a creative playground than a traditional office. It will be designed as a place where people want to hang out, feel more inspired and not just sit at a desk.”

Bounteous 

Digital agency Bounteous made a large real estate investment for office space in 2022. The agency announced it will open a new office in downtown Toronto early next year, measuring 28,414 square feet. The investment comes as the team has doubled headcount. In addition, the agency leased another 8,000 square foot office space in Denver, also set to open in early 2022. 

The new locations come following a real-estate expansion in Pittsburgh and a renovated office space in Chicago, as well as the addition of new locations in San Luis Obispo and Chennai, India through acquisitions. 

Bounteous reopened its existing locations in San Francisco, Wheaton, Ill.; and Wilmington, Del. in early 2021 on a voluntary basis. Bounteous is the digital agency of record for Domino's Pizza Canada and works with clients including Staples Canada and the Government of Alberta.

Empower 

Atlanta-based creative media agency Empower chose to anchor down this year with an investment in a 3,700 square-foot office space for clients and employees in West Midtown Atlanta. The office, expected to open in Q2 2022, sits below The Bellyard Boutique hotel with a full-service restaurant, bar, pool and gathering space. The lease was signed in November.

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