Challenging times often result in creative solutions. Remote work has been around for decades now, but few companies embraced it until forced to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Although the trend was already in motion, agencies found they had to embrace work from home a lot sooner than many planned.
PWC’s recent survey on remote work uncovers the success of a changing set up. Employers responded much more positively to remote work, with 83% of companies saying the shift was successful. Comparatively, only 73% thought so in June 2020. The 10% increase shows marketing firms might keep their office space, but the way things run will change post-pandemic.
Promotional work is a clear no-brainer when it comes to allowing employees to telecommute. Here are some of the ways remote work changed the marketing industry for the better.
1. Balanced Work and Life
Before remote work, some staff spent an hour or more commuting to work each day and the same time returning home in the evening. The advantages of people working from home is they reduce their carbon footprint, save money on fuel and gain precious time with their families and pets.
Prior to the pandemic, while most people clocked in for an eight-hour work day, many arrived early and stayed after hours. Rather than being gone from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., people left their homes before the sun came up and returned well after sundown. Many worked well over forty hours a week without any additional pay or productivity.
2. Improved Communication
You might think communication would be better in a face-to-face office environment. Unfortunately, people waste a lot of time in the office. Interruptions from co-workers talking about their new puppy and a lack of communication skills in the average marketing firm take up precious minutes out of every day.
Remote work forced companies to embrace online communication platforms, such as Slack. The biggest advantage is in the record of what’s been discussed. Team members can go back at any time and read through brainstorming sessions, requests from clients or see what other team members completed.
Communication platforms reduce confusion, keep items from slipping through the cracks and focus the conversation on the task at hand.
3. Managed Projects
Wakefield Research shows about 85% of employees worked remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak. The increase explains the sudden demand for communication platforms and project management gateways.
Project management software is a must for remote work teams. However, a big advantage to utilizing platforms such as Trello, Basecamp and CircleUp is ensuring everyone is on the same page. Each task gets checked off as completed and each phase of the project has set deadlines.
People in different parts of the country can work together efficiently. Clients also stay more informed if given access to portions of project tracking. With everyone keeping track of the project, you’ll catch errors before they become huge. Whether in the office or working remotely, project management software enhances organizational efficiency.
4. Engaged Customers
How well you engage your clients might mean the difference between keeping them or losing them to a competitor. In the past, agencies relied on phone calls and occasional meetings. With remote work, you can more easily host Zoom meetings and gather all the key players together wherever they’re located.
A remote team is naturally more focused on online endeavors. You’re more likely to assign someone to interact with current and potential customers via social media. A meeting agenda becomes as easy as going down a checklist of items.
5. Skilled Employees
When you form a remote marketing team, you can hire workers from anywhere in the country. The perks of working from home may attract top-notch experts in the field you otherwise couldn’t afford to hire.
Choose from the best of the best and seek people skilled in what they do. Your agency will benefit from improved graphic design, creativity and web design skills. If you have a single project with a tight deadline, you can hire temporary freelancers to fill the gap.
You also have an opportunity to train your staff remotely, which means you can bring in experts in a variety of fields. Set up a webinar and train them on user experience (UX) design. Teach them how to apply UX to marketing campaigns.
6. Upgraded Productivity
SHRM reports recent research showing 94% of surveyed employers feel productivity for remote work is the same or higher than it was for office work. Knowledge workers, such as marketing professionals, have a higher productivity rate at home.
Typically, less things distract people when working in a home office alone. While there may be a few distractions, such as pets needing to go outside and noise from the street, overall, the hustle and bustle of the office far outweighs any work-from-home noise. Better focus means higher output.
People may feel more comfortable in their home environment. They establish regular routines to get them in the work mindset. They’re more likely to feel pressured to perform at a higher level to keep the benefits of telecommuting.
Workers are less stressed from not battling rush hour traffic, zooming around to get the kids off to school and get ready for a day at the office. Instead, their mornings are a bit more leisurely and they arrive at their computer rested and ready to tackle the day.
Where Will Remote Work Take Marketing Tomorrow?
How many marketing firms choose to remain fully remote post-pandemic remains to be seen. Most executives claim they won’t return to business as usual after the threat passes. Many look toward a hybrid model, where work time splits between home and office.
Now that workers have gotten a taste of what it’s like to work from home, they aren’t likely to give up the convenience easily. Companies have already adapted and put operations in place to allow for more streamlined remote work processes. It’s likely we’ll see more remote work in the marketing industry in the coming years. The world changed after the pandemic struck. Marketing changed with it.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly. She was the director at a marketing agency before becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.