This Won’t Suck Forever: Hug Change and Get Ready For The Future

Last week, Noble Studios’ CEO Jarrod Lopiccolo and COO Season Lopiccolo spoke in a BYOB Virtual Happy Hour and Roundtable, titled Not Everything Sucks, with agency leaders of Clockwork, Street Factory Media and Ciceron. The panel included a lively discussion on how COVID-19 has shaped the way agencies are functioning currently, and how the global pandemic will spark the opportunity for rebirth in how agencies work going forward. Here’s what we learned.

Flexibility and Elasticity

Because our team has been working remote since March 16, we’ve had the opportunity to lean in and learn from our new remote landscape. We recognize the importance of respecting how people are working during this time.

  1. Empower employees to set clear expectations about their availability, and communicate with team members and clients frequently. Our team is reporting better productivity while working remotely because of fewer office or social distractions, allowing for more heads-down time.
  2. Accept and welcome employees to deliver work in new ways. Some employees might have to deliver work outside of your normal operating hours. We have employees who have found that their most productive working time is early in the morning, while others tackle things later in the evening. 
  3. Use this time to understand varying work styles and plan for accommodating those work styles when it is safe to return back to work. For example, our employees report that people are listening better and with virtual meetings, there is better opportunity for equal voice.

The freedom and control our employees have over their work schedule have been a key driver in their productivity and their ability to better manage workloads.

Empathy, Humility and Transparency

Can we get a ‘hoorah’ for the boundaries and walls that are being broken down right now? How nice is it to laugh with a client over a shared experience like a toddler running by during a Zoom call? There’s an authenticity and equality that’s leveling the playing field for employees and clients right now.

  1. Let go of control and embrace the vulnerability of all the remote work mishaps and uncontrollable occurrences. Dogs will bark. Children will cry. Distractions are inevitable when working in remote environments. Our team reports that working closer to their family and pets is actually an amazing boost to their energy.
  2. There is a very unique opportunity to recognize and share a common challenge: a global pandemic. This shared experience can be used to band teams and clients together to get sh** done. 

Prepare for the Inevitable

It’s unclear when operations will return to “normal”. And it’s likely that our teams could be placed in this situation again. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a strategic plan from our learnings.

  1. Be prepared and empathetic toward employees who might not feel comfortable returning to work just yet. Our team is excited about the potential to work from home more often when the office opens, proving that they have successfully and responsibly taken on this remote work challenge. 
  2. Consider the legal impacts of returning to work and plan accordingly. Every country, state and even city will have different regulations as we return to work whether it’s requiring face masks in public spaces or limiting how many people can be gathered in a space. Make sure each of your offices are in line with the appropriate mandates.

Encourage Brands to be a Force for Good

Agencies and brands alike are in a unique position to show up authentically right now, using this experience as a jolt to think outside the box. As we examine how consumers are responding to COVID-19, we are encouraging brands and clients to pivot their messaging and the way they are showing up for customers. 

  1. Consider opportunities for brands to help support employees, customers and communities rather than sell. 
  2. Really dig deep into how consumers are responding and modify your business from there. Our employees report that this time presents an exciting opportunity to find different ways to service our clients like this digital brand presence checklist.

What’s Next?

We know now more than ever that having a sound digital infrastructure is critical to success. The transition back to work as usual should be a slow and strategic process. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hug change and embrace a new way of working, smarter and better than before.