+ Point of view

Lessons from lockdown

Written by Gary O'Sullivan

In technology communications and marketing we are very used to extolling the virtues of remote collaboration technologies and the “Employee 2.0” future. We are also used to shouting at each other across desks in the office. Now we have to put our money where our mouth is. Digital collaboration has evolved as a great way to bring remote teams closer together, but effective remote working under lockdown is more than using a plug and play video conferencing tool. We have learned some lessons on how to work more smartly and effectively that other businesses might benefit from reading. 

All management is now change management
Every organisation has had to make at least some changes due to the recent global crisis. For our clients, even if the scope of work may remain the same in terms of process – ideation, development and reviews – the goals have become even more important. Assets that would have been siloed in marketing campaigns have evolved to become crucial sales tools for Business Development. Events have become virtual and market focuses have shifted geographies and industries in some cases. From an agency perspective, being good listeners, having the knowledge to understand our clients’ businesses and our experience of navigating previous challenges helped us to employ a broader range of tactics and techniques. This value is helping our clients reach their goals, even if their businesses have significantly changed over the last few months.

Be lean, not mean
In uncertain times, teams working harder makes sense, but “doing more” isn’t a strategy. Marketing teams working both in house and agency side need to remain focused on the priorities and not waste time deliberating or developing ideas that don’t deliver return on investment. We’ve learned to use lean processes to direct energies toward the end result. Minimising the unnecessary means that expectations can be exceeded and teams are more focused on the job at hand. This is particularly important for agility, reacting to a shifting business landscape in real-time. This also means we have more time for one on ones or creative discussions where valuable time can be better spent. 

Find ‘quality time’
One of the upsides of working remotely is, for most, it provides a good environment for concentration and work such as content generation. We are always on the other end of the phone or Slack, but letting the team know you are blocking out time to work on something important and hanging a virtual Do Not Disturb sign up can help make headway on the things that need it. This is also helping to exceed expectations for content or planning that benefit from a little bit of headspace.

Get hands-on with your tech
In our industry we are a mouthy bunch but are also natural communicators whatever the medium. Using online collaboration tools and videoconferencing in lieu of physical meetings is an adjustment but one that we have made successfully to suit the “new normal.” Some other organisations with less varied job functions may have less need to use these tools, but we have learned some good tips. Daily team-wide morning catch-ups are easier to schedule when everyone can start at the same time, impervious to travel disruption. Internal tutorials are easy to deliver company-wide by sharing a link rather than squeezing into one meeting room.

At the same time as upping our use of workplace collaboration, secure messaging and organisation tools, we’ve also been learning some new tricks. Using social listening analysis to inform our strategy and looking at all different types of content that can form part of integrated, differentiated campaigns for our clients.

It takes a little bit of adjusting, and I won’t patronise anyone by saying that working remotely is always a walk in the park, but I hope some of these tips are useful. What’s your experience been like? Feel free to get in touch to discuss