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  • Helena Snowdon

JANUARY'S QUESTION: WHAT GOOD HAS THE PANDEMIC DONE FOR OUR INDUSTRY?

Updated: May 17, 2022


With "Spark Foundry's Burning Question", each month, we ask all staff about something topical and aim to capture as many different perspectives as we can. We then share back out to our communities.


For January, we posed the question:


"What good has the pandemic done for our industry?"


And this is what our Bright Sparks had to say... No editing, no selection criteria, and published in the order they were submitted:


1) Finally demonstrates to (old school) managers and leaders that when you work from home, the job get done! and Trust should be given not owned.


2) The best thing that has come out of the pandemic in my opinion is the business case for flexible working. For a few years now, the advertising industry had been barely dipping toes in the world of flexible working, with managers worried about outcomes, client satisfaction and impact on culture. The pandemic has thrown us in the deep end, and we had to adapt quickly. So, what did we learn?

- Our people are passionate, trustworthy and take pride in their work, outcomes are not just achieved flexibly, they continue to improve and thrive for betterment.

- Clients want flexibility too, there is genuine empathy for wanting life to fit around work and not the other way around. We are seeing a shift to high value face time to brainstorm and discuss strategy, and are happy to connect online for the business-as-usual conversations.

- The impact on culture is very real, it is more challenging to build and foster the connections when working from home. However, something else has emerged, the meaning of "agency culture" has become a lot less about Friday drinks and office banter, a lot less about a few loud voices, and a lot more about the company values.


I think the need for culture and connection is more present than ever, I've witnessed our teams demonstrate more empathy, more compassion and more kindness towards one another. More proactivity, more contact and more collaboration with our partners and clients. While I can't wait for the pandemic to "be over", whatever that means, there has come some good of it and we shouldn't let go of that.


3) The pandemic has forced a long overdue change in the relationship between employer and employee. Traditionally the employee has served the organisation. Post pandemic, the organisation needs to serve the employee. To recruit and retain the best talent the power balance must shift and that new, more equal, relationship means great things for the agencies (and clients) that can embrace it.


4) Gave everyone the ability to work remotely (Including a laptop) and therefore, a better work life balance. The scarcity of people finally allowed an overdue salary adjustment. Brought perspective on life and what really matters. Slowed down our relentless, suicidal and pointless consumerism. Put on hold all the industries that are an embarrassment for our species and the environment (Mass tourism, cruising...) we keep developing more and more, for the sake of our individual entertainment and selfishness. Our insatiable quest for entertainment will be gone with us, not the consequences of it. 


5) Shone a light on mental health and work/life balance. Our industry is notoriously bad at these issues with a lot of lip-service being paid in the past few years without anything being done. The pandemic has forced the magnifying glass on these issues. We still have a long way to go but I feel strides in the right direction are actually being made this time around.


6) One silver lining of the pandemic has been the death of presenteeism. Historically rife in the industry, 'burning the midnight oil' no longer feels like a badge of pride. In its place, there's a new level of emphasis on people balancing time at a computer with time outdoors, time spent looking after physical and mental wellbeing and time spent with loved ones.

This is, of course, symptomatic of a more macro level shift in values. Success in a COVID world feels a lot more holistic and balanced. It's not about martyrdom on the corporate pyre - it's about having the space and perspective to bring your best self to work.


7) The pandemic opened the industry to new ways of working. No longer confined to the antiquated ideal of the 9-5 desk based job, we are now free to learn, grow and adapt in the same way that we shape our campaigns for our clients. In a word, the pandemic has been 'liberating'.


8) Flattening out the difficulty level of having a casual chat with anyone, anywhere. Previously, turning around and tapping someone on the shoulder sometimes resulted in us seeking the same opinions over and over. I now find myself seeking a wider diversity of opinions in everything, because it's all much of a muchness, logistically - whether from remote workers, colleagues overseas, or even a spontaneous vox pop with a family member or friend.


9) I think it has shifted our perspective on what is possible across the spectrum of our industry challenges. I have worked at a few agencies, and I think the mindset when approaching a challenge has historically been "that just won't work" to now "how can we make this work."


10) I think the pandemic has made us all think differently about everyone we work with, whatever level, whatever discipline, and has made us far more empathetic and supportive of each other. Seeing our team mates at home struggling with their children, dogs, partners, parents has made everyone more individual and more human. It has brought us together in many ways despite being apart. And it's made it very obvious if your boss actually really cares about you, and thankfully mine does.


11) Accelerated what "flexibility" means for our industry - greater work-life balance.


12) The pandemic has reframed what is really important in life. In many respects I have never worked harder but I now also have a so much better work life balance. Across the board clients, media agencies and media partners don't sweat the small things as much.


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Thanks for coming! If you found this of interest, please like, share or, better still, stay up to date with our latest perspectives by following us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/spark-foundry-australia

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