The recent COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think about many things.
From the size of our weddings and special occasions to the comfort of our pajamas and clothes that we keep at home, we have considered the size, shape, and necessity of many, many elements in our lives.
Work is one of those elements, if not the most important. We asked ourselves (and our employers) the following questions:
- "Can I do as much at home as I can at the office?"
- "How do I keep in touch with my team when we're all away?"
- "Is it really necessary to have as many meetings as before?"
While we've all found different answers to these questions, one thing is consistent: COVID-19 has forced us to learn how to stay connected, motivated, and productive in new ways.
Canva + HubSpot Marketing Survey
In October, we partnered with Canva to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted marketing leaders, their resources and their teams. We interviewed 502 marketing executives (mostly high-level marketing managers, directors, vice presidents and CMOs) from the United States and asked them how COVID-19 has affected their teams, processes and priorities.
The results are in, and our results point to a new way of thinking about work – especially the tools and technologies we use to get things done.
Download the research Hereand read on to unpack some of our key takeaways.
How COVID-19 has changed the way we think and use office technology
It's no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on where we work now. Of over 500 marketing directors, 73% said they had worked remotely for over three months.
This will likely be the "new normal" for some. A recent Gartner survey found that 48% of employees are likely to work remotely at least partially after COVID-19, up from 30% before the pandemic.
However, COVID-19 has not only affected our place of work, but also the way we work. Many of the respondents reported new challenges in their daily projects and processes:
- Make a decision: Over 50% agreed that their team's decision-making ability was negatively impacted.
- planning: 72% agreed that their planning process was more difficult, and over 70% saw their planning framework changed dramatically with the impact of COVID.
- Feedback: Over 70% agreed that it is becoming more difficult to provide and receive effective feedback while working remotely.
- productivity: Over 66% agreed that their team's productivity had decreased, and nearly 50% said they had difficulty motivating their teams.
If you agree with these results, you are not alone. It is clear that COVID-19 has been tough everywhere, regardless of your team size or industry. Let's unpack some more detailed trends – and possibly permanent changes – that we see as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some organizations outsource more marketing projects.
Gartner found that the COVID-19 pandemic caused 32% of organizations to replace full-time employees with salaried employees and contractors.
Some of these are reflected in our respondents' resource planning after the pandemic:
|Growth marketing||Majority in-house (64%)||Switch to more in-house (68%)|
|design||Majority outsourced (48%)||Small shift to even more outsourced|
|Content Marketing||Majority in-house (48%)||Balanced|
|Web development||Majority outsourced (50%)||Switch to more in-house|
|Social media marketing||Majority in house (50%)||Switch to more outsourced|
|Media purchase||Majority in-house (51%)||No change|
|Affiliate marketing||Majority in-house (55%)||Changeover to more in-house (58%)|
|SEO||Majority in-house (55%)||Switch to more outsourced|
|PR||Majority in-house (55%)||No change|
Why could that be? For one, outsourcing is a common cost-saving measure. It can also help meet demand.
50% of respondents said their teams had a harder time developing creative content. Perhaps outsourcing projects like content marketing and design helped teams maintain their production cadence during times of stress and burnout (which we will explain below).
However, recruiting contractors and external agency services requires increased communication and collaboration.
Gone are the days when we could walk across the hall to chat at a colleague's desk or hold face-to-face meetings with agencies. During the pandemic, we learned to replace those conversations with text messages or video calls – most likely with a tool like Slack or Zoom.
Our respondents would agree. 75% said that instant messaging platforms like Slack support collaboration as “good” and “exceptional”. 72% rated the same degree of ease of use for these tools.
If companies and teams didn't use an instant messaging platform before the pandemic, it most likely did. The need for such a tool also arises when outsourcing projects. Staying in tune is more important than ever – especially when working with third-party vendors.
New tools are needed for those who do marketing in-house.
In the table above, you can see that many of our survey participants still reported keeping or moving a lot of resources in-house. It could also serve to save money and meet demand – by using new tools and technology to make up for a labor shortage.
For example, 44% of respondents said their need for new visual assets and graphic design has increased since the pandemic began. 39% said that demand remained largely the same.
Regardless, this is a vast majority of marketers who need to maintain or ramp up their graphic design production – no less in the middle of a pandemic. A similar number of respondents (38%) said that their graphic design software was “neutral”, “bad” or “terrible” in helping their team work together.
This provides a unique opportunity to leverage office equipment and tools like Canva to support increased customer demand, cut costs, and support remote collaboration.
Another group of respondents (50%) stated that their website traffic is increasing and the need for regular updates is also increasing. Our study also found that 16% of marketers found the ease of use and collaboration of their website content management system (CMS) to be either "neutral", "bad" or "awful".
If you're managing website management in-house, integrating a tool like HubSpot CMS can greatly improve your team's remote collaboration and productivity – while meeting increased customer demand (which is good!).
Companies use technology to monitor and support employees.
We've confirmed so far that marketing teams have been pushed for productivity and collaboration while being urged to create more creative content to meet customer and employer demands – all in an ever-changing, pandemic-ridden market.
Office technology has never been as critical as spotting and recognizing the barriers that COVID-19 has created, such as: B. an increased teamwork load and burnout of employees (17%).
This rise in employee burnout has led to more discussions about employers' responsibility towards their employees. A Deloitte study found that organizations should do more than just promote open dialogue and practices on wellbeing as the "pandemic put more hours into the working day". Gartner agrees – they theorize that COVID-19 has expanded employees' expectations of their employer as a "social safety net".
Technology has also proven useful for non-work-related needs. Zoom has outfitted teams for online happy hours, virtual Christmas parties, and even team building activities. Companies also sponsor free telemedicine and virtual therapy sessions.
Gartner also found that, in a less digital sense, employers also "provide assistance, including (including) improved sick leave, financial assistance, adjusted hours of operation and childcare regulations."
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way employers use office technology to remotely understand not only employee experience, but employee performance as well. A Gartner study found that 16% of employers use tools to monitor employees through virtual clocking in and out, tracking the use of work computers, and monitoring employee emails or internal communications.
This trend started long before the pandemic but is growing in popularity as more people choose to work remotely on a permanent basis.
Over to you
As big and difficult as these COVID-19 layers were, they are here to stay for now.
Listen to these emerging trends and invest in new processes, tools and technologies in 2021. That way, you can address these challenges and better motivate, monitor and equip your remote teams. Remember, it is your responsibility to help them be productive at home, stay connected with their teams, and make room for how the pandemic affects their personal lives as well.