How does the shift to remote work affect marketing agencies?
| May 20, 2021
The pandemic and its resultant lockdowns have shown us that workers can be just as productive and effective when working from home, relative to when they are in the office. Consequently, companies across the globe will inevitably introduce work-from-home policies in the coming months.
Marketing agencies, too, are reaping the benefits of working remotely. Since most marketing activities are now done digitally, they can also be done independently outside of a conventional workspace.
For instance, employees can continue to craft copy or edit videos without being present in the office. Apart from this, the pandemic has shown that daily marketing activities like posting social media updates, guest blogs for link building, and email marketing can also be done efficiently by those working remotely.
This is an option highly preferred by agency staff. A Global Agency Productivity survey conducted by resource planning app Float showed that a large share of the workforce (41%) prefer to work partially remote, with a two- to three-day office working policy. An additional 40% prefer a remote option, whereby you can work remotely or in the office as you wish.
This is no surprise, as there are numerous benefits to remote working. The same report claims that remote working can double the productivity of agency staff, who can now spend more time accomplishing deep work without being interrupted. Deep work is defined as being able to work without distractions for over 6 hours. This can, in turn, lead to a healthier and more productive workforce.
In this section below, we will analyze the pros and cons of the shift to remote work and how it might benefit or cause detriment to marketing agencies.
1. Working Remotely Reduces Expenses
Digital marketing agencies can reap significant savings on office-related costs when a hefty portion of their workforce is remote. The overhead of running an office, from rent to heating, and snacks to equipment, are often among the most considerable costs of running a marketing agency.
When your employees work from their respective remote locations, you will no longer need to rent substantial office facilities and reduce spend on administration, utilities, and equipment.
Agencies can instead also pass on some of these cost-savings to their workers, whether as a stipend, a wage increase, or additional benefits to help workers stay productive while working from home. This can include hosting regular social events, providing perks such as fitness and workout subscriptions. A survey conducted by CNBC reported that up to 37% of millennials are ready to be paid less if they could instead work from home or have more autonomy in their work hours.
2. Increases Employee Productivity
In addition to the report above, another study conducted by Stanford found that working from home in general increases productivity by 13%.
This can be attributed to increased work-life balance when people work remotely. Reducing the time and stress in commuting frees up more time for employees to better manage their day-to-day life. This ultimately results in a healthier mind, and likely improved work ethics. For marketing agencies, where creativity and productivity remain the utmost priority, it is a paradox that the more freedom that you provide to your employees, the better their work productivity get.
In addition, employees can work on flexible hours. For instance, some prefer to work at unconventional hours and night hours because they are more productive at night. This freedom of flexibility is again a productivity booster, and hence the work is delivered on time.
3. Better Deployment of Technology
Marketing agencies are putting technology to best use for all purposes, promoting themselves, conducting online meetings, and everything else. The widespread adoption and acceptance of video conferencing tools like Zoom and other instant messenger apps over in-person meetings offer a cheap and easy solution for team members to work in sync, and for teams to make effective client pitches.
With the new normal, agencies can reduce the time and money needed to travel to clients and for work meetings.
4. Access to Talent Beyond Geographical Boundaries
The most significant benefit of remote employees or consultants is not just restricted to the cost-saving or productivity improvements, but also the ability to hire the best cost-effective talent for the job. Every digital marketing agency has reflected this as the most important reason for hiring remote employees.
Since the office's physical location won't matter a lot, you can now hire contractors from anywhere across the region or even from foreign countries. This represents great cost-efficiencies for agencies to identify and work with the best talent for their budgets.
Admittedly, there will be significant onboarding costs and productivity losses from working across different time zones, but we see this as a challenge that will be better solved in the coming years. Physical locations will no longer be an impediment to effective collaboration.
5. Creative Collaboration Might Suffer
The main disadvantage of remote working in a marketing agency is that this might potentially hamper creative collaboration. While some employees can effectively work individually and independently from their preferred location, innovation and in-person meetings whereby there is a rapid and fluid exchange of ideas might suffer.
Moreover, the lack of healthy, in-person and social office culture may result in a lower sense of belonging with the organization.
To summarize, it isn't fair to say that the shift to remote work will effectively render marketing agencies redundant. Rather, it is more likely that agencies that do not heed the wishes of their employees will be left behind. The best and brightest talent will have the autonomy to decide where they'd like to work and for whom they'd want to work with.
As a last caveat, a shift to remote work should also not necessitate an increase in employers policing their workers. Some agency owners might wish to opt into more profound surveillance tools and software to monitor communications and track employees accordingly. However, this signifies an explicit lack of trust in your workers and signals a poor hiring process where you continue to hire the wrong type of people to work with you.
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