“My mind is now open to different possibilities”: 5 ways agency work will change in the future

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This is part of a special package from Digiday on What’s Next, looking to the other side of the current crisis to explore the lasting changes that are taking place.

Over the past four months, employees and employers have adapted to a new way of working that is not only remote but more flexible. This is of course due to the necessity of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But agency executives and employees believe some of the workflow and workplace changes will persist long after the coronavirus is under control, as old beliefs about what can be accomplished outside of the office have been proven wrong. .

Remote work and shared workspaces will be standardized

With employees working remotely for several months and productivity levels still comparable to normal in-person activities, agency executives say they are changing their minds about employees working remotely.

That’s true for David DeMuth, CEO of Detroit-based advertising agency Doner. The past four months have led to a sort of remote working “epiphany” for him. Before the pandemic, DeMuth believed there was a need for employees, especially those in managerial positions, to work in the agency’s office. The past few months, however, have proven that working with employees wherever they are is a viable option. “Now we might not need someone to move out,” DeMuth said. “My mind is open to different possibilities now. ”

Going forward, agency executives believe that a hybrid model of employees working remotely on certain days and in the office on other days is likely to be popular once the coronavirus is controlled. This model will likely lead to workspaces shared by more than one agency.

“Customers don’t want to pay everyone’s overhead anymore, so it’s an industry that’s ripe for a shared workspace with access to common resources,” said Caveat co-founder and CEO Josh Greenberg. , adding that the shared workspace can be beneficial because “creative professionals and creative service companies all need the same tools and resources from vendors.”

An emphasis on the diversity of talents

Without employees needing to live close enough to travel to an office each day, geographic restrictions on finding an employee near that office will be removed, agency executives said. Employers will then be able to open up the talent pool and potentially hire candidates outside their region. For some agencies, the ability to do so could help with the diverse makeup of their employee base.

“They will be able to hire outside of the big cities or the typical places they recruit in,” said Michael Tonge, founder of The Culture LP and independent creative strategist. “It allows people to go further outside of their immediate networks. At a minimum, it will lead to diversity in thought.

In recent weeks, agencies have grappled with the lack of diversity (especially in mid-level and managerial roles) and looked for ways to address the issue. Simply hiring more diverse candidates is not enough, as there are systemic issues within agencies that need to be addressed to “enable true diversity and inclusion across talent levels,” Tonge said .

That said, agency executives believe that in the future, a focus on “hiring, training and recognizing diverse teams and inclusive management becomes the norm,” said Mack McKelvey, founder and CEO of SalientMG.

Benefit packages will change

Employees with home offices before the pandemic were ready for the transition to remote working. Those without such amenities have had to figure out what is needed to make working from home bearable. Some employers will likely make changes to their benefits – like an allowance for office supplies or cell phone bills – as part of their benefits in the future, agency executives say they must. take into account new working methods.

“Companies will have to rethink the benefits,” McKelvey said. “We cover employees’ cell phone bills and home wifi (they always have); but in the future, companies should find ways to creatively offset the costs (childcare, home office allowance, etc.) for this new hybrid of office / remote work.

More emphasis on work-life balance

With employees working from home, the lines between work and life have blurred. Executives and agency executives say that now, months after this shift began, there is a realization that the separation of work and life will need to be rebuilt or redone to ensure that employees are not exhausted because those limits have disappeared.

“It will be more important than ever to recreate some kind of boundary so that work doesn’t end up invading our personal lives too much and ultimately creating resentment (which ultimately leads to burnout),” said PJ Pereira, Creative President. and co. -founder, Pereira O’Dell.

As the boundaries between professional and staff are physically blurred, some believe that the limits of working hours will become more flexible to take this into account.

“Working hours and individual availability will no longer be as commonly and collectively Monday to Friday / 9-5 (or 9-9, in agency life), but will rather be more limited or flexible depending on individual circumstances “said Matt Wurst, United States. Managing Director of the Revelation branded content store. “The companies and businesses that succeed will be the ones that recognize, embrace, celebrate, adapt and take advantage of these differences. ”

More flexibility

For years, agency executives and marketers have used “agile” and “nimble” as buzzwords to present themselves as modern and differentiated. The need for teams to be both “agile” and “agile” has certainly been proven in recent months. That said, the ability to quickly change course due to unforeseen circumstances will be part of the agency process long after that point.

“’Pivot’ sounds like the word of the year,” said Katy Wellhousen, senior account manager at influencer marketing agency RQ. “While agencies and brands have always needed to think about ways to adapt campaigns to cultural changes, the past four months have proven that there are some things you just can’t predict,” said she declared. “The biggest learning point for me was to put aside ego and pride and let go of a concept that no longer fits the cultural climate.”

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