Award-winning marketing expert and CEO of global outsourcing agency BBSA Anna Stella on how marketing leaders can ensure hybrid working continues to be successful and productive.
Although the pandemic tumult has passed, marketing has continued to face significant challenges throughout 2022. The increase in enterprise costs, overextended marketing budgets, and the repercussions of the Great Resignation and the Hybrid Work Revolution are just a few of the complications CMOs, and Marketing Directors have to overcome.
Challenges aside, marketing leaders have an exciting and unique opportunity to build the framework of the hybrid business model, determining how marketing teams will operate within the model.
After many false starts, hybrid work has become the norm and is no longer seen as only a fringe benefit offered by a few progressive organisations. Studies suggest that employees produce quality work regardless of whether they are stationed in an office or a home location, yet the transition for marketing teams to hybrid or remote work has been easier said than done.
Unlike other business units, marketing departments are experiencing some real challenges in getting teams to work remotely. An overflow of extended approval processes, miscommunication, work duplication, brainstorming, creative sessions, and postponed deliveries are good examples of extra challenges currently faced by marketing teams working remotely. And yet, hybrid work is here to stay. Gartner's study revealed that work flexibility would impact 67 percent of marketers’ decisions to stay or leave an organisation, pushing companies to immediate action.
Tip 1 – office rules
Working from home and from the office offer challenges and benefits, yet the very interdependent nature of marketing projects poses real challenges in building trust between hybrid, remote, and in-office team members, especially when new hires come into play. While recent studies have shown that performance doesn’t increase while working in the office, some parts of the marketing job are undoubtedly better done in person. Examples can be seen in networking, socialising, informal and formal collaborations, such as brainstorming, ideation sessions, product reviews, and board presentation.
To succeed, clear office rules must be in place; and team members should understand when and why it is imperative to be in the office. Yet, rules are not enough. CMO and Marketing Directors also need to spend time with the team communicating, often overcommunicating, the rationale of when and why employees need to be in the office.
Tip 2 – unnecessary communication
Marketing projects take a village to complete successfully, resulting in CMOs and Marketing Directors working simultaneously with multiple marketers on several tasks.
When employees work remotely, there is a tendency for marketing leaders to overcommunicate in an attempt to curb the isolation. However, communication should be kept relevant and necessary instead of just frequent. A balance should be maintained between bombarding employees with information and only communicating just before a deadline.
Different channels can be adopted for certain teams and specific projects, taking the learning style and natural preferences of team members into account. Synthesisation skills should be taught to team members, improving how information is given and received by members. Employees should also be encouraged to understand each other’s learning styles so that information can be delivered in each individual’s suitable format.
Tip 3 – boost the marketing campaign process
One of hybrid work's most significant opportunities is to shorten the marketing campaign process. After all, team members no longer have to work the same hours; different work schedules equal to getting jobs done faster. If synchronised and well structured, the marketing processes of mixed remote and in-office teams can, in fact, have a more fluid workflow and be more productive.
Whether the team is working in-house, remotely, or in a global office outside of the main headquarters, to make this work, marketing leaders should set rules regarding the work hours and boundaries within the dispersed team. CMOs and Marketing Directors should proof split shifts or workdays before agreeing blindly.
Often either working hours aren’t clear or only office hours are kept, which can hamper the effectiveness of hybrid work. The team should remember that all members' designated work hours are equally important and should be considered.
Tip 4 – burnout-wise
Whether you have experienced it personally or not, burnout is real. And it’s not just bad for your physical and emotional health, but it can also snuff out your creative spark. Marketing remains a demanding industry. Hybrid staff could quickly feel overwhelmed by their new routines and workload, leading to stress and burnout.
Although the beginning of hybrid or remote work can be filled with excitement and positive change, it can also be challenging or mentally exhausting to work from home, isolated, on a number of intense projects with high expectations.
Burnout can be prevented by recognising the signs early and enlisting the help of colleagues to keep an eye for elevated stress and tiredness in one another. Scheduling training to recognise burnout individually and in others can help with burnout identification. Keeping a ‘success diary,’ where all positive feedback or compliments are recorded and used as a motivator when work becomes overwhelming, can also help to keep your team productive.
Tip 5 – exploit remote micro-learning
One of the markets most impacted during the pandemic was the events industry, with training and sales feeling the ramifications. Marketers had to learn fast how to market and organise virtual events, often relying on remote learning to keep their marketing knowledge up to speed.
Micro-learning is done from a ‘just-in-time’ concept, where an hour video or digital teaching watched in your own time is given as a solution to a problem. Opposing is the traditional ‘just-in-case’ concept, where hours are spent in classroom-style teaching as solutions to possible problems that could still happen. Forward tracking the new cost-effective micro-learning style allows marketing hybrid teams to forego complex education, enabling team members to learn less often and more productively.