In this article, Chris Stappard, Managing Director at Edward Reed Recruitment, takes a look at the reasons why Covid-19 might have transformed marketing into a remote working sector.
Just months ago, remote working was a perk of the job in most firms, with the majority preferring to maintain a permanent office for their staff to work in. However, as the Covid-19 crisis intensified and the UK entered a nationwide lockdown with the order to “work from home where possible”, businesses were forced to quickly adopt a 100% work from home policy.
For many marketing agencies, the pandemic’s “new normal” has demonstrated that their businesses can still operate with all of their staff working remotely. As a result, what was once a perk is now on the verge of becoming a permanent fixture of how they operate. Below, I’m going to take a deeper dive into why the sector may shift to remote working for good because of the crisis.
Productivity is Not Impacted When Staff Work From Home
One of the major misgivings about remote working before the crisis was that employees won’t be as productive at home. However, the prolonged lockdown period proved that marketing agencies can still flourish despite not having a shared space where staff can work together.
In fact, if you take a look at research carried out during the pandemic from multiple industries across the globe, it seems that productivity actually increased. Research by Boston Consulting Group found that 75% of employees said they improved or maintained their individual productivity levels through the lockdown months, while 51% said the same about their collaborative levels.
Many Employees Have Found Positives in Remote Working
While having to alter work routines at such a stressful time will have cast a long shadow over the past few months for many, it’s important to note that employees have also discovered the positives that working from home has to offer.
In a survey by the Institute of Employment, 67% of staff said they enjoyed the autonomy of remote working, while 77% felt trusted by their employer and 80% still get feelings of accomplishment from their job. It also found that there were more tangible benefits, such as having more time in the day without having to commute. Respondents highlighted activities they appreciate having more time to enjoy, such as spending time with their families, cooking, or just having a lie-in.
Working From Home is Becoming Easier Than Ever
I’ve already mentioned that collaboration productivity has been preserved through lockdown, which would not be possible without the help of the technology that is making working from home easier than ever before. With advancements in hardware and software, the barriers to home working are disappearing.
Just think of the platforms that have enabled your marketing agency to remote work in the last few months. The likes of Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are all ensuring that collaboration and work management does not take a hit in your business. And, as more solutions become affordable and available, I expect the limits of home working to be reduced until they’re no longer even an issue.
Remote Working Changes the Game for Recruitment
With remote working now widespread and accepted as part of the norm within marketing, your firm will be one of the many that sees how it changes the game for how you recruit. I predict that this will happen in two ways: prospective employees will expect you to offer a work from home option as part of the role, and you will now be able to access a wider pool of talent.
Even before the Covid-19 crisis, employees were looking for opportunities for remote working — a 2019 Buffer survey found that 99% of people wanted to work from home some of the time. Now, it will be expected. This means that, if you want your agency to be ahead of the pack for the best talent out there, you will need to integrate this flexibility into any role you offer.
In addition, remote working removes geographical restrictions on your hires. In the past, there was a need to take commuting distance and relocations into account when recruiting, but now this will no longer be much of an issue. This means that you will have access to a much wider pool of talent, and will be able to choose the best candidates without being limited by where they’re based.
With No Office, Overheads are Lower and Profit Margins Increase
There are also financial benefits that come with moving from an office-based business model to one that relies on remote working. If your firm can thrive without a team workspace, as many marketing companies have done through the crisis, you can severely reduce your overheads by not paying out for rent and upkeep on an office. There will be initial costs for setting up everyone working remotely, but these will soon be covered by the savings you’re making each month.
There’s also the added bonus that Covid-19 has forced businesses to adapt to remote working right across the board. So, if you’re worried about not being able to meet clients in an office, it’s worth keeping in mind that they’re likely set up for video calls now, and they won’t be expecting face to face meetings at any point soon. And, when the time comes to resume in-person meetings, these can be done at their office or at another location.
The Covid-19 crisis is likely to make remote working a permanent practice in the marketing sector. Hopefully, this article has given you an insight into the reasons why this is the future, as well as highlighted some of the ways you may need to adapt.