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Creative Brand Purpose Creative Works

The office of the future: creative, collaborative, flexible

By Michael Nutley, Freelance Writer

July 29, 2021 | 6 min read

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The era of the 9-to-5 is over. For marketers at least, a new, flexible approach to work is taking over, catalyzed by the events of the past 18 months.

Creativity, collaboration and culture: the impact of working from home on marketers and marketing

Creativity, collaboration and culture: the impact of working from home on marketers and marketing

This is the key finding of a new white paper published by The Drum and Adobe; Creativity, collaboration and culture: the impact of working from home on marketers and marketing. It shows the marketing industry embraced working from home, and only a quarter expect to go back to their office full-time or most of the time in the future. Instead, over half (56%) of all the people surveyed – and two-thirds of creatives – expect to work mostly from home.

This may sound worrying for some employers used to a high level of control, but the research suggests the old days of micro-management and presenteeism have gone. Instead, marketers embraced their new flexibility and the opportunity to spend more time with their families. In return they were more efficient and more productive. Only 16% said they’d found it difficult to work effectively from home.

The white paper also examines:

  • the impact of remote working on the quality of the creative produced;
  • which areas of creativity and marketing have benefited most from technology during the pandemic;
  • which tools were most heavily used by marketers and creatives.

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The quality of creative

Respondents’ views were more split over the quality of the work produced during the pandemic. Three-quarters (74%) said their company’s creative output hadn’t suffered as a result of the changes, but only just over a third (37%) felt the same about the quality of the entire industry’s creative work. And people’s views were divided on the impact of home-working on their own creativity. Almost half (47%) said it had improved, but the same proportion disagreed.

A big part of the problem was that nearly everyone missed the informal conversations made possible by working in an office, and the inspiration and collaboration that happens as a result. More than half of respondents (54%) said that working from home had made collaboration more difficult, compared to 44% who said it hadn’t.

The combination of this need for creative connection, and the problems faced by young staff in particular trying to work from home in unsuitable conditions, suggests the future of work will involve allowing people to work in the way that suits them best.

“The future is a hybrid system,” said Bart Van de Wiele, principal solutions consultant at Adobe. “An office that’s good enough, comfortable enough, and fun enough to work in and to do your best work. And then if you do decide to work from home, making sure you’ve got the best tools available for proper online collaboration, asset sharing etc, so you don’t lower the quality of the work simply because you’re not physically in the office. No one should be able to notice that.”

Flexible working requires technological support

As Van de Wiele says, the flexible future of work is only made possible by rapidly developing technology. The research found that two-thirds of marketers started to use more technology-based tools to assist their creative activity during the pandemic. More than four out of five (86%) agreed their company had successfully used technology to assist with workshops, discussions and collaboration activity.

But the research also showed the benefits of technology were not evenly spread. The two areas where tech delivered the most improvement were in client/agency relationships and in maintaining brand consistency when multiple people are working on different assets. The two areas where the impact of technology was least apparent were in creative development and ideation sessions.

The research is based on a focus group and a quantitative survey of over 100 marketing professionals and creatives carried out for The Drum and Adobe by James Law Research Associates.

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