An overwhelming majority of marketers have embraced remote working and desire to continue working flexibly from home rather than return to the office full-time once the Covid-19 pandemic passes.
These findings headline a new survey undertaken by recruitment firm Hays and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), which found most have warmed to their changed circumstances despite lingering concerns around wellbeing, a lack of flexibility from employers and a disrupted work-life balance.
Is working remotely working for marketers?
Drawing responses from 28,000 CIM members, the report found that 55% will request to continue working remotely beyond next spring when restrictions are expected to ease.
This contrasts with just 14% who plan to return to the office full-time through choice and a further 5% who will be back in the office only because they can’t work remotely.
Under 25s are most likely to shun flexible working, with 32% not intending to make any special requests. At the other end of the scale, just 9% of those aged over 55 will willingly relinquish flexible working.
Fully 82% of marketers expressed the belief that working from home makes them feel more authentic, a proportion which rises to 87% among those aged 55 and over.
Respondents remain alert to the potential pitfalls of home working, however, with 52% raising concerns over isolation and a further 45% troubled by a blurring of boundaries between the home and work.
Flexible working is an issue in adland
An enthusiastic embrace of the freedoms afforded by flexibility comes despite 41% of those working flexibly before the pandemic reporting that they felt overlooked for promotion – a belief held by 50% of female marketers but just 29% of men.
Articulating the findings, CIM chief executive Chris Daly said: “One important watch-out is young people, many of whom appreciate the sociability of office life and don’t always have the comfortable home working set-ups enjoyed by their older colleagues. Employers will need to carefully balance the need for a positive office environment for young people with a desire among older workers to spend less time in the office.”
Beyond personal considerations, 78% of marketers believe flexible working has a positive impact on the success of employers more generally, opening up new opportunities to broaden the talent pool by hiring without geographical constraints.
Concerns over discrimination
Concerns over workplace discrimination remain widespread with 60% expressing the view that their opportunities for career progression have been limited by factors other than performance.
The most common discriminatory factor cited was age (62%) while gender and ethnicity were cited by 33% as drag factors on their employability.
Such responses contrast with the ideals of marketers as a whole, where 67% holding out for employers who are publicly committed to upholding equality, diversity and inclusion – compared with 61% for the population as a whole.
A greater proportion (75%) lay importance on a company’s diversity and inclusion policies, with many valuing those organisations that take a stand on social issues above those who keep their head down.
Delving into more detail, the report established that 61% are firm on their companies holding a strong public voice on matters of inclusion and diversity, with a further 16% expecting a clear stance but only internally.
Strength of sentiment is such in this area that 39% would be prepared to leave an organisation they felt to be insufficiently engaged.
Clare Kemsley, director of Hays Marketing, concluded: “Flexible and remote working has been incredibly powerful in maintaining productivity across the world this year, but it’s not without its downsides. It’s concerning to uncover that this is leading to some feeling at a disadvantage when it comes to career progression.“
“On the plus side, it’s striking how many professionals, not just marketers, feel that their organisations should take a public position on diversity and inclusion issues. The modern employer needs to make this a core part of their workforce strategy going forward if they are to attract and retain top marketing talent.”
Growing awareness of workplace discrimination coincides with the era of Black Lives Matter, with most supportive of the idea that business must play a role in shaping the societies in which they operate.