In a bid to welcome staff back to its UK offices, ad agency Rapp is staging a series of events inspired by the annual week-long bacchanal of Freshers Week.
The company has set out to ”ease the transition” between working from home and hybrid work arrangements with a week of social activities, training and development. To tempt workers away from hearth and home, it has unveiled a week of events inspired by the traditional welcome for first-year university students.
In place of student societies, invites to foam parties or discount entry to terrible nightclubs, Rapp staffers will be greeted back at work with an array of stalls manned by their colleagues. Activities on offer include a diversity and inclusion disco, book club, mental health first aid, sessions on creative writing and action on climate change, and the option of a cup of tea with the agency’s senior leadership team.
Gabby Ludzker, Rapp UK’s chief executive, said: “A Freshers Week felt like an inviting and inclusive way to bring people together, and start the process of building back connection and collaboration in a way that will ensure that Rapp’s culture is safeguarded while also being given a chance to adapt for the future.
“And while we know that we are not over the pandemic and things can change very quickly, bringing people back together IRL is a long-held ambition, but we’ve done so with safety front of mind and purely on a voluntary basis.”
The return is being staggered throughout the week. Rapp staffers are being invited to attend just weekday, and have been offered a choice of traffic light wristbands bearing colors that indicate their level of comfort with interpersonal contact (green for ‘hugs with colleagues’; amber for ‘elbow bumps only’; and red for ‘back off!’).
According to Rapp, each day will end with an hour-long live version of Dave gameshow Taskmaster, dubbed Rappmaster, with bespoke tasks created by show presenter Alex Horne.
While Rapp may be rolling out the red carpet to returning workers, many workers are not keen on a return to the old ways of working. Lorraine Jennings, director of wellbeing services and culture change at Nabs, told The Drum the organization has “seen some concerns around the return to offices”.
She said: “Change can be an opportunity to thrive for some, but quite the opposite for others. There will be people who can’t wait to get commuting and back into an office environment, but this won’t be the same for everyone as it can bring up new or existing anxieties.”