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On the Campaign couch... with JB.

QDear Jeremy, I no longer have a desk. Just a cardboard box and a security pass. I can sit where I like at work but I'm beginning to forget what work I'm actually supposed to be doing and who with. Is hot-desking really the future?

. In theory, I'm the very last person you should be asking. I've never experi- enced hot-desking so my knowledge of it is non-existent. But, even so, eve- rything about hot-desking fills me with fear and loathing: not because of what it is but because of what it isn't. And I do know a lot about what it isn't.

Considering how long I've been working, I've had surprisingly few desks and offices -- but the ones I've had, I've had for wonderfully long pe- riods of time. They've given me fa- miliarity, continuity, reassurance and somewhere to keep a box of tissues and a mounting number of books.

A desk of your own, the very same desk, every day, with a drawer or two for the Tippex and the tissues, offers much the same human comforts.

Hot-desking offers none of them.

Hot-desking's basic assumption is that all we need for working is some- where to sit, somewhere to put a lap- top and access to the outside world.

For a trade that prides itself on un- derstanding people and brands, thisis astoundingly ignorant. No-one would make equivalent as-sumptions about our cars or our kitch- ens -- other spaces in which we spend hours of our life. From the earliest axe head to the latest iPhone, human be- ings have favoured that which com- bines excellent function with pleasing design. Crude, stripped-down utility never wins. Why should where we work be any different -- even when chillingly known as a workstation? If hot-desking is the future, then I want no part of it.

Dear Jeremy, My agency

partners talk a good talk whenit comes to collaboration butthe reality is that there is an undertone of infighting and land- grabbing. Should I let them work it out? Or is the competition a good thing, even if it means they are less collaborative than I'd like??

It comes across as infighting and land- grabbing -- but it's really agencies dis- playing their primeval, gene-driven compulsion not only to come first but also to be loved most. A single agency working with a client can identify with that client deeply enough and for long enough to see helping that client win as being almost as satisfactory as win- ning the client in the first place. Butonce two or more agencies are asked to work together for the same client, agencies instantly revert to new-busi- ness mode: nostrils flaring, their goal from now on is to be seen by that client as the best, the favourite, the favoured one, the outright winner. And if that means outwitting their partner agen- cies, so be it. They know they shouldn't, they pretend they're not, they protest their selfless collaborative intentions: but what drives them is their relentless need to be the emper- or's undisputed number one concu- bine -- and for the whole world to know it. This misdirection of competitive energy is unlikely to burnish your brand. Leave them alone to get on with it and they probably won't. So make one of those agencies, quite for- mally, your lead agency and tell the others that they've got to toe the line. At the same time, make it quite clear to the lead agency, in writing, that it's their responsibility to deliver harmo- nious, collaborative, complementary work; and that if they fail, they will be immediately stripped of their num- ber-oneconcubine status.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J Walter Thompson and WPP. If you have any questions, email or write to PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE

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Publication:Campaign Middle East
Date:May 29, 2016
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