Loud reggae music, self-flushing toilets, suicide barriers- all part and parcel of working at Fred & Farid, Frederic Raillard and Farid Mokart say.
Fred: (Referring to a large banner outside the front door.) Black. It's the first thing you notice as you approach the agency. That's the colour we chose for Fred & Farid. A lot of people think we draw this inspiration from the fascist regimes of the 20th century, but we prefer to liken it more to the Industrial Revolution. A time of great innovation. And a stark reminder that brutal graft, and occasional infringement of human rights, really is the recipe for success. )They look at each other in agreement.)
As you walk through the doors, the first thing you'll see is a live video link to the other offices in Fred & Farid Group. Keeping three offices motivated is tricky. They have to compete, sort of like gladiators but with pads and pens.
Farid: Yeh, the worst office gets fired. (They laugh heartily.)
Fred: In reception, you will notice the message emblazoned on the wall, "Si un jour on baisse les bras, coupez-nous la tete", which roughly translates as: "If I drop my arms, you can cut off my head." This is to encourage the workers who come through the door every morning to keep going, despite the suffocating deadlines they may face.
Farid: For morale.
Fred: We designed the floors to have wrong numbers. Starting at one instead of zero. To disorientate one's subject is the easiest way to exert control.
Farid: As we always say: "Confusion is the mother of unexpected invention."
Fred: We constantly scour the inner workings of the agency eradicating efficiencies. One recent initiative has been to turn all our kitchens into workstations. Whereas previously they were used by employees to indulge in non-value-adding activities like eating and secretly crying, the former kitchen space is now seeing an increased return in profitability of 250 per cent.
Farid: Let's go straight up to see our children in the creative department.
Fred: We decided on long black benches and black chairs set against white. You'll notice a complete absence of colour on the walls. Lack of inspiration makes us search deeper for our ideas.
Farid: It's cheaper too.
Fred: The church owes its success to the pew, a solid and highly effective seat design. We've taken these learnings, and rendered sofas and beanbags pointless.
That row of rectangular windows that run the perimeter of the room, you see the safety barriers. Suicide is highly unprofessional and treated as a gross breach of contract.
Farid: We remind everyone of this in the daily newsletter.
Fred: This limited amount of light has an added bonus. Our workers, like moths, are drawn to the brightness of their screen. Sure, we have the occasional case of rickets but, by and large, this condition isn't fatal.
Farid: The seating arrangement is so that, in the likely event of a fire, the most important people can get out first.
Fred: We were rather inspired by White Star Line, the people who built the Titanic.
Farid: Each morning is greeted with loud compulsory reggae played over the company Tannoy, as it's impossible to be unhappy when you are listening to reggae.
Fred: This also applies when you are presenting work. If the ideas aren't good enough to be understood over the reggae, they aren't good enough.
Farid: From our experience of working at a particular British ad agency, we stumbled upon the bizarre custom of taking an afternoon nap in the toilets after a liquid lunch.
Fred: Our toilets are set to automatically flush after seven seconds so as to deter time-wasting.
Farid: As we always say: "Toilets are not thrones."
This institution is devoid of tea, lest our British creatives get too comfortable. Any attempts to smuggle PJ Tips into the building have been intercepted and the culprits dealt with accordingly. The coffee industry has been far less contaminated by the fair-trade movement. We like to show solidarity in the face of left-wing fantasies like this.
Fred: Decaf coffee is another "no no". Although we appreciate the health risk of drinking too much coffee, the risk of low productivity is a far more worrying issue.
Farid: As we always say: "Drink black, don't slack."
At the top of the building, you'll find our private office. No-one is allowed in there.
Fred: As we always say: "Stay the f*ck out of our office."
The agency "local", Le Laffitte, is just across the road. At Fred & Farid, fun is mandatory. Especially when we can monitor it from our window.
Farid: As we always say: "The quickest way to the bar is out of our window after a displeasing review." (They laugh.)
Fred: Our meeting rooms are encased in glass so we can keep an eye on proceedings. It's important that every meeting feels our gentle caress, whether we are there or not.
We have set the agency up to thrive in the new digital landscape. Every computer is equipped with a webcam so we can pop up unexpectedly. We've heard the term "Big Brother" used, but that's nonsense.
Farid: More like "big brothers".
Fred: A general omnipotence is good for the workers' confidence. As we always say: "Act like we're always watching, because we are."
Frederic Raillard and Farid Mokart are the founders of Fred & Farid Group.
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