Those of us in the Technology and Data space have a long-standing reputation for enjoying a bit of Social Distancing and Self-Isolation, so it’s no surprise that some of us have perhaps found it easier to adjust to the new status quo than others. However, will widely enforced policies of Managed Remote Working change the way we work forever? Or will things go back to being as they were once our current situation surrounding Covid-19 has been alleviated?
Marketing Automation solutions initially took a long time to gain traction within organisations. Whilst Technologists quickly recognised the potential of remote and eventually cloud-based SAAS solutions providing processing power well beyond their own terminals and on-premise servers, adoption was blocked by Senior Decision Makers worried about the impact on jobs, process and security within their departments. However, the value of a strong tech stack is now clear to most organisations that evolved to accept one.
Technology now serves to provide customers with a better, more immediate experience allowing brands to focus on improving customer engagement and product and service design, the issues around data security and associated risk have largely been assumed by the platforms to provide the highest standards of protection & encryption.
With the abundance of processing power and amplified speed to market of messaging, displaced staff found themselves in alternative roles in support of the technology, allowing for more focus to be placed on campaign orchestration, testing and general strategic direction and purposes of communications. Technology didn’t result in the feared mass marketing redundancies.
Similarly, the technology allowing employees to work from home has been available for years, relying on the core components of a reliable broadband connection, VPN & video conferencing facilities and a professional space in the home. However much like the early days of Marketing Automation technology, this too has faced opposition to widespread adoption, and again these blockers have been predominantly cultural rather than logistical. One of the barriers that most organisations have faced around adopting large scale remote working are largely down to the issue of Management fearing it is unable to trust employees to put in their contracted hours, or use them productively. Reciprocally, employees are reluctant to surrender visibility for fear of their contributions not being recognised or drifting-off of the radar, thus potentially reducing their chances of future promotions or advancement.
Whilst we are measured against the timely and accurate delivery of marketing messages and customer experiences, both of which it would be immediately apparent if we weren’t delivering on behalf of our clients; the biggest concern for remote workers has to be the lack of visibility touched on previously. However, the Covid-19 situation has hopefully awakened a wider breadth of staff in a short space of time to the idea that Managed Remote Working can, and in these trying times must be made to work for everyone. One of the things that this crisis has undeniably proven is that it’s a far more efficient use of time to arrange a quick one-to-one chat over Zoom or some other video-conferencing tool, than it often is to physically go and find someone in a large, multi-floored office building.
Many platforms are not only accessible through mobile web browsers but are in some cases optimised for them or have even developed apps to give marketers access to core functionality on the go. Whilst you’d never want to deploy a campaign end-to-end on your iPhone, it’s comforting to know that you can check basic campaign metrics or stop an email sending as long as you have access to your phone and a Wi-Fi connection.
For employees who work almost exclusively with Marketing Technology platforms and are heavily involved with their maintenance and/or delivering customer journeys, this degree of accessibility coupled with the fact that we are all able to access our emails just as readily means that it is harder than ever for us to ‘switch-off’ from work; and we remain duty-bound to deliver a degree of out-of-hours support as a result. Working from home though has long been a luxury we’ve been able to enjoy, offsetting these long and often unsociable working hours against a lack of commute and the chance to take a lunch break with the family and be on hand to read the kids a bedtime story.
So what about the long-term prospects of embracing these new ways of working for the wider working community? For employees the reward of a better work-life balance simply by eliminating the commute is apparent, not to mention eliminating the cost and stress of the twice-daily trek to and from the office. For employers, perhaps this will prompt the realisation that costly office space and the associated overheads aren’t the necessity they once were, and might even be considered a luxury in the current climate. Yes, maintaining a physical presence is still going to be absolutely necessary for face to face meetings, interviews, IT support and staging a bit of pitch theatre. But what coping with Covid-19 has hopefully shown us is that it really is people that are a company’s most valuable asset. Whilst everyone’s clawing at the walls at this point to restore a sense of normality; in tough times the resilience, flexibility and adaptability of those people is king.