Back To The Office: but not as we know it

The coronavirus pandemic in some ways has fast-forwarded us into the future. The traditional, habitual, way of working has changed; workforces across the country have become more tech savvy and we’ve become protective of our time.

Our lives exposed

Go on, be honest now, do you feel a little disappointed when someone’s pet doesn’t turn up for a video call? Seeing each other pets, checking out books on bookshelves and generally having an insight into our colleagues’ and our customers’ homes has also changed the way we feel about each other.

We all know that everyone has a life outside of their work, but it’s only when you actually see it that you start to feel a true authentic connection, maybe even a spot of empathy too.

On a recent call with two senior marketers from a global bank we talked about skateboarding, surfing, the joys of being a pet owner – these chats were triggered by objects, and animals, on show behind them. These conversations wouldn’t crop up as easily if we were in an office setting and it’s thanks to this type of communication that I now see them as more than representatives of their organisations.

All those ‘f’ words

I’m talking about feelings. I’ve already mentioned empathy, as a nation we’ve developed a deeper compassion for those we work with and have become more understanding of their needs and individual situations.

It’s made us more flexible. Finally!

For our small, but mighty and perfectly formed, team here at Good Communications we’ve transitioned into working from home fairly seamlessly. The equipment we already have enables us to still see our clients, albeit through a screen, and there’s been no impact to the delivery of our work. Having group video calls are still needed though as us creative types love to bounce ideas of each other – we can now do that with tropical backdrops, space station backdrops – you name it, we can pretend to be there.

When lockdown was announced and offices closed, we found ourselves in the enviable position of having some time to actually think about our processes. Are they efficient enough? What can we do that’s even better? How can we help our clients adapt to their own working solutions?

We’ve embraced animations since live action video shots have ceased. Blimey, they really do hold people’s attention. We just need to be even more super organised and make sure we have all the assets needed.

  • To prove how effective these are, take a look at our ‘back to work’ themed animation.

  • We’ve focussed on just the right amount of processes. Too many act as obstacles in our creative path. We are now more streamlined, efficient and have created our very own productive remote environments.

  • We’ve put communications at the top of our agenda. We set time aside to talk to each other and to our clients. This keeps us on track and feeling connected.

  • We’ve taken our culture with us. Our culture defines us so it’s important we maintain our sense of community and enthusiasm for what we do and how we do it.

  • We’ve taken our digital documentation to the next level. Every team member has everything they need to fulfil their roles to the max.

  • We have and will continue to arm ourselves with the software to match the demands of our clients.

It could also be that creative agencies are the last to return to physical offices full time because we can produce the same standard of work no matter where we are. But one thing is for sure, it’s the creatives that can help to kick-start the economy.

So, what about physical offices for the creative agencies … are they still necessary?

I’ve been to so many creative agencies in the past where you’re instantly hit with a wave of colour and images as soon as you walk through their door. For some reason, many favour a ‘cool looking’ ping pong table in the corner too. The reception area can be the place where the deal is sealed, and the handshake takes place.

A physical space oozes culture, it has communal areas that comes alive with ideas, the workplace gives boundaries to work and home lives. There is definitely a space for them in our changing world.

I can’t imagine what the atmosphere or motivation now feels like for the larger agencies – their design and layout aren’t conducive to keeping people apart – quite the opposite. Having to socially distance, stagger breaks, speak through impervious barriers, diligently cleaning keyboards after a lunchtime game of Street Fighter – these measures must stifle creativity and dampen spirits?

Perhaps, those ping pong tables will come in handy after all as a measurement guide?

Let’s go back to the question; ‘are physical offices necessary’. Yes, I believe they are needed, as a race we’re a sociable bunch, we long to be with our work-buddies, even if it’s to moan about Fred in accounts! Nothing quite replaces office camaraderie. Being with others can be a catalyst for creativity.

Empathy and flexibility

For the future to work I believe we must remain flexible and demonstrate empathy towards each other. Having both a real and a virtual model could be the answer.

Creative agencies do have one main advantage – we have the tech and software to meet the wishes of our clients and the creativity to turn problems into possibilities. And as our clients establish their new way of working, we can, and will, adapt our service without disruption.


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