Andy Thomson, our Client Partnership Director and Purple Studios lead, shares his thoughts on why Covid-19 has made ‘on-site’ a dirty word and what this means for the future of creative delivery.
In early 2020, the world changed forever. Covid-19 forced a radical change in working practices overnight. Those businesses that could continue trading were challenged to find new ways to operate immediately. The show had to go on.
We, as an agency, had no choice but to do the same. However, our challenge was two-fold: as well as having to find new methods, processes, IT infrastructures and comms to keep our large head office teams operational, we also had to find answers for our on-site Purple Studios teams – and do so quickly. This was made even more difficult by the fact that each client team was unique in its size, skill set and, of course, location.
The new normal
There’s no denying that Covid-19 brought with it – wait for it – unprecedented challenges. But what made the task surmountable was the fact that all our Purple Studios teams were already using our unified work sharing platform, accessible from anywhere in the world.
Throughout the pandemic, our formerly on-site teams have been operating seamlessly from home in all instances. From this experience, we’ve quickly learnt what works (and what doesn’t), giving us the insight needed to deliver a better, more flexible studio offering in the future – both on-site and off.
On-site is dead
No sooner had the word ‘coronavirus’ infected our vocabulary that the term ‘on-site’ was banned within our business. Instead, we adopted the word ‘dedicated’ as this more accurately describes our Purple Studios offering. You see, it’s not about where our teams are located; rather, it’s about how they work. These are bespoke teams created to work exclusively for specific clients, from any location.
Yes, dedicated can mean on-site. But it can also mean off-site, multi-site, in-house at our main agency offices or regional hubs, or simply working from home. The options are truly endless. And, no longer committed to the idea of on-site teams, our clients are adopting our language too.
Certainly, in its purest sense, ‘on-site’ is dead.
Less 9-5 and more 3:2
The world has changed, and so has our way of working. It’s clear that we don’t all need to be in the office 9am to 5.30pm, five days a week to work effectively. And, once we have successfully managed the pandemic (note, I didn’t say ‘defeated’), we will all have to operate differently.
I’ve spoken with many lead clients across the banking, travel, retail, and hospitality sectors about this exact subject. All have made huge strides in transforming their ways of working to suit the new world. This is especially true in the area of facilities, where the office footprint is shrinking, with fewer desks than staff. There’s now much less reliance on – or need for – shiny corporate offices in expensive cities.
And it’s not just about where the teams will be working; it’s on which days, too. There’s much talk of rotating teams, with employees working three days in the office and two at home. No more 9-5; the future is all about the 3:2, or even the 2:3. Whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is that employees simply don’t need to be in the office all the time to be productive.
Connect, collaborate, communicate
But, for the ‘new normal’ to work, delivery has to be seamless. With team members working all over the world, the supporting technology must be accessible to everyone 24/7 on any device, and the processes must be flawless. Workflow tools need to be in place to allow client and creative teams to connect, collaborate, and communicate efficiently.
The clients using our dedicated teams are excited about the future and keen to plan how we will operate together going forward. They’re also very flexible about location. Ironically, these are the same clients who would have insisted 12 months ago that our teams be ‘visible’ and, therefore, ‘on-site’ at all times. Now, they’re singing the praises of remote working. This, in itself, offers a unique opportunity to broaden the talent pool beyond a 30-minute radius of a client’s office.
Striking a balance
Of course, there’s a balance to be had. While technology has taken great steps forward, it will never satisfy our basic human need for social connection. Every client that I have spoken to still expects – and quite rightly so – some level of physical interaction going forward.
Sure, a broadband connection and a host of video conferencing apps can meet the demands of most functional work. But there’s simply no adequate substitute for the intimacy offered by in-person working, and its integral role in relationship building, problem-solving, and creativity.
So, as many organisations decide the shape that their post-pandemic way of working will take, the flexibility afforded by dedicated teams like Purple Studios truly comes to the fore. These are teams working inside a client’s world – however, whenever, and wherever they need to be.
The future is bright
Without doubt, the pandemic has rocked our world. It’s forced us to make fundamental changes to the way we live and work. But you know what? It’s not all bad. Covid-19 has opened up a world of possibility. Now is the time to embrace it and build on what we have learned – which is exactly what we’re doing with Purple Studios.
If you’re in the process of rethinking creative delivery and would like to explore how dedicated teams might work for your business in the new world, please contact email@example.com.