Preparing for the new creative workplace

In 2021, it’s clear that the hybrid model will change the way we work. Here are 3 changes that creative teams should be ready for.

The forced work-from-home environment of 2020 quickly sparked an ongoing debate on whether remote work was here to stay or simply a temporary blip in the corporate world. When asked a few months in, it seems the majority of people rang a resounding “Yes” to working remotely forever. But, as time went on, especially as we entered the darker winter months, many started to shift their view and find themselves longing for the culture that comes with being in an office.

This dilemma has been a “do we or don’t we” tug-of-war for many — at both the corporate and individual level. On the one end, a remote workplace provides more flexibility and autonomy for employees, while keeping real estate costs down. On the other hand, a local workplace provides an enhanced sense of culture and collaboration. Even at MediaValet, we’ve seen many of those that were eager to work from home indefinitely hit a point where they wished they could spend some time in the office (when it’s safe to do so).

The answer to this dilemma may lie in the hybrid workplace. With a combined remote and local solution, employees can spend anywhere between 1-4 days a week working in the office, and the others working from home (or an alternative space). With this hybrid approach, organizations can provide their employees with an improved work-life balance, while ensuring corporate culture is maintained and real estate costs remain low. 86 percent of organizations surveyed in a recent Colliers International survey plan to have employees work from home at least 1 day per week.

“86% of organizations surveyed plan to have employees work from home at least 1 day per week.”

Colliers International

The creative dilemma

While I’m excited by this change and welcome it is as a business leader, I can’t help but find myself thinking about creatives — those that rely on local servers and in-person communication to do their job efficiently and ensure smooth collaboration between teams. From conversations that I’ve had with creative leaders, I’ve found that this group had significant challenges with making the move to home — not because they were unwilling, but because they weren’t equipped with the tools and processes they needed to be successful.

The creative team has a unique set of challenges that make them particularly susceptible to the pains of working from home. They work with incredibly large, complex file types, they collaborate heavily, and tend to work with extremely tight deadlines. What this means is that they’re often unable to work effectively using the same “catch-all” solutions put in place for most departments. Even those with VPNs to access their local servers from home have found that accessing files is either incredibly slow or crashes the system altogether.

As we enter 2021, it’s clear that the hybrid model will change the way we’re expected to work and with that, we’ll need to change how we approach creative operations. From my perspective, there are 3 major changes that the creative team should anticipate and prepare for.

Mandatory work-from-home days

First, with the hybrid model, organizational leaders will be more deliberate in deciding who needs to be in the office more regularly and adjust their real estate decisions accordingly. With this, comes a plan for less resource-intensive office set-ups like hot desks, collaboration zones, etc., and limitations to how much time any given team can spend in the office. Creative teams will need to be very direct in identifying where they can get the most value from their facetime with each other. For most creative teams, this will be in-depth briefing, collaborative brainstorming…the parts of the job that flow better when bouncing ideas off each other in-person. The office will become a place for collaboration and innovation, while the “heads-down” work will be saved for home.

“By 2025 I envision we will have a hybrid model and we will be more deliberate in who comes to the office.”

Fran Katsoudas, Chief People Officer, Cisco

New sources of inspiration

Second, with the creative team accomplishing more day-to-day tasks from home, there will be an undeniable shift in how inspiration will be ignited. Within an office space, it’s easy to bounce ideas off colleagues or draw inspiration from each other throughout the day. The physical distance of working from home will make it much more challenging to accomplish this in a seamless way. Creative teams will need to reapproach how to stay inspired, creative and imaginative. For many, this will require more dedicated and structured time to get feedback from others and share sources of innovation. We’ll see inspiration become a task to be accomplished, rather than a natural outcome of the workspace.

A change in productivity tools

Finally, this hybrid space will usher in a necessary investment in hybrid tools. As stated before, the creative team has traditionally been hosted almost entirely on-premise. The shift towards creatives working from home, at least part-time, will require teams to adopt new or additional ways to access the information and files they need quickly. Along with this, the autonomy of working from home will mean inconsistent work hours and less visibility into other’s work. The hybrid model will require a greater reliance on tools that help increase collaboration and encourage communication in a remote environment, and with this, many solutions will need to be replaced or supplemented. For most organizations, this hybrid model will be the kicking-off point to adopt cloud-based solutions.

Get ready for 2021

As we enter the new year, the pressure is on to get your house in order — and fast! The ad-hoc solutions that were put in place to react to changes of 2020 will need to be re-evaluated and revamped to prepare for the hybrid workspace of the future.

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