The COVID-19 pandemic has become a significant burden for many companies in the Philippines, particularly the out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry. Because fewer people were going outside, many businesses had to lay off staff and decrease their spending, including their advertising budget. Worse, several shops had to permanently close down since their income could not keep up with their costs. The OOH industry was on the receiving end of this domino effect.
How did the OOH advertising industry react to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The department managers at Outcomm gave their thoughts on how Outcomm Inc. coped with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discussed Outcomm’s experience with the strict community quarantine guidelines that the company and its workers had to follow at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020.
Outcomm had been considering the transition to telecommuting since 2019. The large OOH firm had been preparing to move from office duties to working remotely from home throughout that year.
First, they identified the positions that, by definition, may be performed remotely. These positions cover most office labor, such as accounting, sales, human resources, and creatives. Furthermore, they had to identify which jobs require regular fieldwork, such as permit processing, billing and collections, engineering, and site management.
When the Philippine government issued tight lockdowns and community quarantine restrictions in March 2020, Outcomm was ready to implement the plans it had laid out for moving all office work to their employees’ homes.
The WFH Setup
At the beginning of the work from home (WFH) arrangement, Outcomm required all employees to log their working hours every day starting at 9 AM using a time tracker app on their devices. Nonetheless, Outcomm became more liberal in terms of overall working hours. Outcomm’s HR department noted that having six (6) hours of reported total working hours is enough, as long as the employees accomplish the required output for that day.
Outcomm also used various instant messaging and task management apps to make it easier for all departments to collaborate. Viber, Slack, and Discord, for example, make it easy for people of each department to interact with one another and organize conversations into distinct channels. Trello and ClickUp are task management tools introduced to the employees where projects and subtasks are set for each employee and tracked regularly.
Good management is vital. Outcomm urges department managers to motivate their employees to maintain satisfying results for the company and its clients. The OOH advertising company also consistently reminds its employees that their efforts are critical to its success and that no job position is unimportant to the business.
As a company that treats its employees as family, Outcomm shows trust in everyone and believes that micromanaging is not a solution to the issues in the WFH setup.
Outcomm Inc. is a company that focuses on results. Thus, every Outcomm employee understands their function and contribution to the organization.
Once a task is assigned to an Outcomm employee, you may expect them to complete it with minimal supervision. Outcomm believes that regular meetings for updates and effective use of task management tools are sufficient for keeping track of everyone’s progress.
Outcomm recognizes that the WFH arrangement may be more of a problem than a convenience to some employees. That is why proper task management and good time management are two attributes that all departments continuously strive for.
The Future of Remote Work
During the lighter general community quarantine (GCQ) period, Outcomm developed a hybrid work schedule. Each department is assigned a work schedule of at least twice a month to report to the office to work.
Despite the success of the work-from-home arrangement, Outcomm still hopes to return to the office-based work setup, at least partially. The managers at Outcomm noted that working in the office is still the ideal option since employees are more motivated to work in the office, and every department can interact with each other more easily.
When the time comes, Outcomm will encourage its employees to return to the office as much as possible while still allowing those who live with their families or live distant from the office to continue work from home.
Keeping the OOH Advertising Industry Afloat
The OOH industry took a hit when strict lockdowns were imposed in Metro Manila. Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, has drastically dropped in numbers. With the OOH industry at its lowest point in decades, Outcomm had to look for new ways to maintain its advertising efforts.
Outcomm saw the need for social media management and digital marketing as Filipinos become increasingly engaged in digital media. And in the summer of 2021, Outcomm officially launched its new digital marketing unit, Oohlahoop Digital and Creatives.
Oohlahoop Digital and Creatives consists of Outcomm’s Digital and Creatives department, which has previously worked on several advertising projects for the OOH firm. Oohlahoop offers a wide range of digital and creative services to its clients.
Oohlahoop’s digital services include digital marketing, social media management, web and app development, and site optimization. Meanwhile, Oohlahoop’s creative services include copywriting, photography and video production, and graphics design.
Today, Oohlahoop is working on a few projects for both local and international firms. And they are excited to serve more clients in the coming months. Oohlahoop is also conducting a free Digital Marketing Webinar series to help audiences discover new successful techniques for growing their businesses online. Outcomm gave a few lucky webinar registrants the chance to post their advertisements on LED video boards in EDSA and C5.
The Future of Outcomm in the OOH Advertising Industry
The employees at Outcomm believe that the out-of-home advertising industry will never be irrelevant. People will eventually come back outdoors, and clients will advertise for those people once again. In 2020, Outcomm had clients who had returned to OOH advertising after five years of digital advertising.
The advertising costs in digital marketing had skyrocketed with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, because it is the less expensive alternative, out-of-home advertising is becoming more significant, even though fewer people are going outdoors than usual.
Outcomm continues to expand its reach even amid the pandemic. When the pandemic is over, Outcomm will be ready to offer its clients and their audiences new advertising locations and improved execution designs.
Maintaining a Positive Mindset
Outcomm treats their employees like family. And as a family, each employee must understand and communicate well with one another. Outcomm believes that when employees are connected, that’s when they work best. Having different chat groups within the company helps strengthen the bond between co-workers. Employees feel like they never left the office when they have fun online, cracking jokes and exchanging stories.
To alleviate the employees’ stress during the pandemic, Outcomm holds virtual floor games every month where each department battle up against each other in various parlor games online. Outcomm also shows its appreciation to its employees by celebrating special holidays and celebrations and by sending video greetings to the birthday celebrants.
Some employees prefer to gather in jovial “e-numan sessions” (virtual drinking sessions) with their co-workers through video calls. Virtual drink nights would not be complete without having a virtual karaoke sing-a-long, of course.
Simple daily routines can also have a significant influence on how the rest of the day unfolds. Employees at Outcomm are encouraged to exercise and groom themselves first thing in the morning to stay motivated throughout the day.
The Future of Outcomm as a Family
Outcomm commends its staff for their valiant efforts in keeping the company, as well as the OOH industry, alive throughout the pandemic. “We want people to stay with us, do their jobs well, and be engaged,” the Outcomm managers added. They also stated that the company’s employees’ well-being is just as essential as revenue. “When people believe they are motivated, income will come eventually.”
“Whatever practice we have stays the same,” they commented about the future of Outcomm. “It’s just a different environment. The outlook is still there.” Outcomm is optimistic that the OOH industry will continue to develop, that its employees will remain engaged and that the company will acquire more billboards and other sites in the future.
The Big Picture for Outcomm
It was difficult for Outcomm to adjust to the pandemic-caused slump as everyone was used to having everybody on the floor. Nonetheless, the managers at Outcomm discovered that they trusted their workers much more to complete their tasks on their own now that everyone is working remotely.
The managers at Outcomm all shared a single word of advice: “Adapt.” The pandemic may have posed significant challenges to the out-of-home advertising business, but this should not deter the industry from moving forward. Furthermore, the problems caused by the pandemic can be opportunities for the OOH business to grow.
“You cannot change the situation,” Outcomm’s General Manager added. “The question is, ‘What are you going to do?'” Outcomm’s present actions are only the beginning of the OOH company’s future. As a company devoted to delivering satisfying outcomes, Outcomm took the bold step of pioneering the future of OOH advertising. “Let’s stop thinking about the past. We have to adapt. You cannot lie down and sleep; you have to do something.”