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Hybrid Working: Businesses, The Media Industry & TCC

As the world slowly begins to reopen, businesses are beginning to make lasting decisions on what the post-covid workspace will look like. While some companies are itching to bring their employees back into the office, others have opted for a hybrid approach or sticking with a full-time remote approach.  

This doesn’t suggest that colleagues will never meet face to face again but does imply that Monday to Friday 9-5 (or 9 – 6 if you live in London!), will never be the same again. Hybrid work isn’t just of benefit to an employee, there can be many benefits for a business also. However, like all things, hybrid working isn’t all positive. There are issues that have cropped up with the remote approach adopted during the pandemic.

Therefore, each industry needs to take a close look at what works best for them. We will explore the advantages, disadvantages, and what in our opinion is right for the media industry.

Advantages

Businesses With a Remote or Hybrid Policy Have Access to a Larger Talent Pool:

Fully remote/hybrid workforces allow employers to tap into a much larger talent pool. They aren’t limited to employees being located in their immediate vicinity, or who want to relocate. A business in rural Dorset can have access to the same talent as a company in London or Manchester. Fully remote companies will likely have the upper hand when it comes to talent because it eliminates the cost of living burden placed on employees in major cities.

Remote Work Evens Out The Playing Field:

With remote or hybrid work, the business becomes the most important factor in attracting talent, not the location. This gives businesses and smaller cities the ability to pull in the best talent available. 

For employees who have had to relocate during the pandemic, especially those who moved out of major cities, choosing between returning to work if they need to move again or quitting is not an easy decision. The recent ‘Great Resignation’ as it has been dubbed has highlighted that people are willing to move to strike a better work/life balance, so this is something businesses of all kinds will need to keep in mind to retain talent. 

Financial Benefits for Employees and Employers:

The pandemic has meant that many people and businesses have needed to lower costs dramatically (especially for the media/freelance industry). Commercial property is not cheap especially in a city such as London, nor are the operating costs. A study conducted earlier in the year found that 74% of businesses planned to reduce their office space by up to 25% to lower costs. This does not suggest the death of the office but more an evolution of the way we work taking place. 

One saving perhaps even better than money is the saving on time (and stress) from not having to commute to the office. No commute means no sitting in traffic or dealing with public transport delays (we’re looking at you, National Rail). This benefits employers too – less stressed employees are more productive and more engaged at work.

Disadvantages

Ensuring team collaboration:

Collaborating, and the tools to do so remotely, have come on a long way during the pandemic. With the advancement of services such as MS Teams and Zoom, it has never been easier to work remotely and collaboratively. However, sometimes nothing beats meeting in person when needing to thrash out a project that requires team consensus. It will be vital for businesses to remember the need for collaborative workspaces.

Mental Health:

Whether were speaking about employees or bosses, we are all social beings and cant thrive without human interaction. Isolation is one of the top reasons for depression and lack of productivity.  

Before the pandemic, 62% of employees reported positive mental health. By late 2020, that number had dropped to just 28%, according to a report by the Martec Group, a global strategic intelligence and market research solutions company. Job satisfaction and job motivation had also fallen – job satisfaction from 57% to 32% and job motivation from 56% to 36%.’ 

To encourage positive mental health, businesses need to explore a strategy that works for all employees and be able to regularly touch base with employees.

Blurred lines:

You would think that working remotely would allow you to enjoy more of a work/life balance but actually, apparently, it can have the opposite effect… When you dont have a clear separation of workplace and home space, they can blend together. You might not be able to just switch off from work and find yourself constantly checking your phone, laptop and any other forms of technology you may use. (smartwatches don’t help with this do they?! Oh the conflict of wanting to be connected vs not be bombarded with work out of hours!)

The Media Industry:

How can the media industry ensure that the office landscape continues to support successful outcomes, particularly in a sector where creativity and collaboration are key? The 2021 Innovation in Media Report dedicates an entire chapter to this very question, providing data, insights, and pragmatic tips on how to prepare yourself and your team for the post Covid-19 world of work. 

While lockdowns made working from home five days a week unavoidable, it cannot stay that way, especially in creative organisations like media companies,states the 2021 Innovation in Media Report, Edited by John Wilpers & Juan Señor of Innovation Media Consulting. Human beings are social animals, and journalism is a social process, both in the gathering of the information and the creative process of crafting the presentation of that information. Ditto sales and marketing.

However, it is important to note that the media and entertainment industry not only moved quickly to adopt a new future of work approach, but it proved their artists and animators can successfully create top content right from their living room to audiences around the globe. 

An observation we have made from The Crewing Company and our clients, who consist of broadcast, branded content agencies, advertising agencies, social content and corporates, is that it is still a bit of mix. Some clients really see the value of bringing a freelancer in-house to work amongst their team and make use of that face to face collaboration, whilst many have been really open to remote working. 

Just in November so far, round 60% of the placements we have made have been remote working. Of course, pre and post production placements make this much easier for the clients and freelancers, especially if the freelancer has a high spec set up at home. We have even found that some clients have adapted their way of working by setting up remote logins for our freelancers to use their systems, which has been working really well. 

Another brilliant observation we have made is that, with the recent adaptation on remote work, this has allowed us to connect talented freelancers and clients together where before the pandemic we couldn’t due to the geographical distances. For example, we have a client based in Plymouth who now book freelancers that are over 200 miles away, and another client who are based in Glasgow booking freelancers that are 450+ miles away, it’s opened up some great opportunities for freelancers and clients alike!

When it comes to our freelancers, understandably a lot of freelancers are opting for remote work only jobs, whereas others are keen to get in amongst a team and start seeing people again, face to face. We do our best to cater for everyone, and totally respect that freelancers and clients have different expectations and needs. We are really enjoying the flexibility that remote work has to offer for our freelancers, and how much the media industry has propelled forward with this flexible way of working over the last year or so. 

Final Thoughts:

There is no doubt that hybrid work is here to stay. But, one thing is clear, not just for the media industry but all industries: Evolution, not Revolution. 

Businesses need to take into account what works well for them as well as their employees, taking into account cost, productivity, mental health, collaborative capabilities. Lessons learnt during the pandemic need to be onboarded, there is no point in resisting the changes that Covid has brought about, nor, continue certain policies that may harm a business in the long run. Every business needs to evaluate what works well for them, and what doesn’t. The key term for this? A hybrid work approach…

Here at TCC we have adopted a hybrid working schedule since August earlier this year, where the majority of our team do 3 days in the office and 2 days working remotely. We have found this has been working well for us, and encourages team building and collaboration whilst also offers a better work/life balance. We are always reviewing this, and seeing what works best for our team vs how people feel about travelling into the office etc. We have set the office up to be as covid-safe as possible to make people feel at ease when coming in, and are very communicative as a team when working remotely. 

As much as we love Hackney Wick, one thing we know for sure, is that the 5 days a week trekking to our office days are over, and we’re excited to see the benefits this will have for us as a team and company.