Returning to Work – Tips From Forresters Research

4 Jan, 2020

Top insights from Forrester’s Return to Work Report

You may not have seen it, nor even heard of a recent report released by them, but you will have heard of Forrester Research before. In April, Forrester’s released a report title “Returning To Work: How To Prepare For Pandemic Recovery”. The report – as you’d expect of a firm of this calibre – covers a lot of territories, but the broad topics of specific interest to us were office management, scaling to cope with demand fluctuations and optimal ways to manage your workforce in their return to work. If we’re honest, the report is written for the security market more than Marcomms, but there was one specific area that caught our attention and which we felt obliged to write about: the concept that Business resilience will become a competitive advantage.

After all, that’s what we love – helping our clients to improve their competitive advantages. Whether it is better margins, more insight to operations, or running your business with less fluctuation, we want to help. So we thought it worthwhile to detail the top findings from the report.

Builder stronger, more trusted relationships with your clients

For a number of years, marketing has been focussed on making the customer the centre of all strategy, so it is no surprise that this recommendation remained in the #1 spot through this report. But the point of difference to BAU is that through this pandemic and as we move back to our offices more, they advise that businesses be more transparent and consultative. If you are going to have staff back in the office 3 days a week, then communicate it to clients. As a customer, there is nothing worse than being in the dark; calling an office line only to hear it ring out,  being unsure if your work is being trafficked through, or not knowing if an email has been received are missteps that agencies need to be aware of so they don’t put clients offside.

Through it all, look to leverage different channels with clients and staff to ensure that communication is getting through. Different tools and platforms are key here – we’re talking email, phone calls, Slack, and even group chats.

Improve business practice and become an employer of choice

The logic here is simple. If you can work to make your operations silky smooth, and become a place where people enjoy coming to work, then you are going to retain your top staff and attract more top-calibre staff who will also drive your business forward.

In the return to work from the working from home scenario, the key they emphasise is to communicate (related to the first point) with your staff and to facilitate the return in such a way that not only are staff are aware and involved in the process, but that the abilities and skillsets of each person is taken into account in a meaningful way. By inference, this would mean looking to ensure that if you look to bring back a staggering workforce, that you bring back people on the same days who have others they like to engage with, and as importantly, others who they can work with for an optimal result. If you can align people’s expectations with core processes and in doing so show empathy and consideration, then employees will be less anxious and more engaged and the work will show!

Consolidate Revenue and Reputation

As we stated above, communication has been and will continue to be vital during the transition to the next phase. But Forrester urges companies to temper their communications as we all start relaxing and look to move to the next phase.

There is a fine line between being cheeky and pushing the envelope and coming across as insensitive. Maintaining your edge is important, but read the crowd, and recognise that even if you are moving back at a certain pace, there are others who will be moving slower. Do not damage your reputation through poorly considered communications, or through having expectations which may not be in-line with your clients.

Conversely, take the time to shore up your relationships, enjoy the time to consolidate your revenue streams, and where necessary, part ways with clients who may be absorbing more time/money than they are worth. Take the time to analyse your operations and you will come out ahead in the near-term. In fact, it will help you to bounce back faster, giving you a competitive edge over those who have tarnished their reputations and/or relationships.

Expect the sands to continue to shift

If we’ve all learned one thing during the last 2 months, it is that change is constant. This will remain the case for the foreseeable future. There will be a growing tide of employees who wish to partake in more flexible working arrangements, and if anything, this Crisis has shown that we can all work from home and get things done. As an agency, if you have an employee who has no meetings one day, why not allow them to work from home that day and be happier. Their happiness will contribute to their output and thus your agency’s as well. The beauty of technology is that you can monitor their outputs, check their profitability and even check progress against goals (If you can’t or don’t know how to ask us how Pegasus can give you this insight).

But above all, recognise that because we are moving into a new frontier, what may be the norm this month, may, in fact, shift radically into the next. After all, we don’t know how the economy will bounce, how businesses (and their clients) will react nor what new platforms or industries will arise from this (just remember Uber, Groupon and WhatsApp were born from the ashes of the GFC). But what we do know is the more flexible, the more informed and more prepared a business is towards accepting change, the better they will survive.

Ultimately, the key is this, whatever your plan is regarding the next phase post Isolation, ensure that what you do is built on three core principles: being informed, prepared and engaged.

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