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Hybrid Working

Hybrid Working: Businesses, The Media Industry & TCC

As the world has been fluctuating between locks downs, work from home orders and returning to normality (or as much as it can). Businesses have established new ways of working, and it seems like hybrid work is here to stay. While some bosses are keen to have staff back in the office full time, others are happy to allow for a more flexible approach to work.

Although this suggests that colleagues will no longer reap the benefits of working face to face, other benefits such as a massive cut down on commuting time has come in. There are positives and negatives to hybrid working both for businesses and their employees. It is important that each business within the media industry decides what the bests approach is for them and their people. In this article, we are going to explore the positives and negatives of a hybrid approach, hopefully aiding in ensuring your business is making the right decision.

Advantages

Employees can come from anywhere:

Remote workforces mean that companies are able to look for talent across the country rather than being limited to those within a commutable distance to the office. A business in rural Dorset can have access to the same talent as a company in London or Manchester. This means that companies are truly able to find the person who best fits the role.

The Business is the Priority for Candidates:

There are many factors that an applicant will consider when looking to apply for a role – pay, location, perks, business ethos and more. With remote work, location is removed from consideration meaning that a higher focus is put on the business. Therefore, a production company located in rural Kent may now be able to attract talent from London, Manchester or even Edinburgh.

Many people relocated during the pandemic, mostly due to reevaluating their work/life balance. Having moved to more rural parts of the country, they are now reluctant to move back to busy city life. With a recruitment crisis being prevalent for the last few months, the ball is much more in an employees court than it has ever been before. Businesses need to ensure they are meeting the demands of many.

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). 

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:

CEO, producer or runner, we are human and that means we all require 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. “Job satisfaction and job motivation had also fallen – job satisfaction from 57% to 32% and job motivation from 56% to 36%.” (Martec Group)

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

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 don’t 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 uses an entire chapter to explore how collaboration can continue where it is vital. 

“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.

“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.” (Media Report, 2021).

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 a 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, around 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 the recent adaptation to remote work, 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 books 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 offering 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.