The Global Shift Towards Remote Working for Digital Agencies

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has spent over £90m on remote working technologies in the last three financial years, according to official figures.

Many digital agencies are now shifting towards remote working, owing to how easily workers can simply log on and continue from anywhere in the world.

And while this is a more recent trend that has become more popular since 2020, it’s not something that has come out of the blue, contrary to popular opinion.

According to data collected in 2019, just 4.7% of UK employees worked from home before the pandemic. However, by 2023, ONS data, as reported by Quotezone, states that 44% of employees work from home in some capacity with 16% working from home permanently. In this article, we’ll examine why there has been a global shift towards remote working and why this trend has continued for digital agencies.

Remote Working in Digital Agencies

As we alluded to in the introduction, there is a growing trend of workers within the digital industry being based away from the office and working from home with either a remote or hybrid arrangement. There are many reasons for this, whether that be down to personal preferences and not wanting to be confined to a traditional office or because of the increasing number of opportunities available to those willing to work from home.

This has been facilitated by the increased availability of technology that enables remote working, such as video conferencing platforms and cloud-based computing. This pre-existing technology has since become central to how many workers operate, whether that’s within in-house or agency marketing teams.

Across the world, this is a trend that is continuing to grow. According to Marketing Week, 58.8% of marketers take a hybrid approach, while 17.3% are fully flexible. Moreover, 5.6% of SMEs have closed their physical offices entirely, 70.4% of marketers at large brands are hybrid, and 18.3% are fully flexible. While this is a global trend, it is especially common within the digital agency space.

Agencies That Have Adopted Remote Working

One leading digital marketing agency, The Media Image, with offices in the US, the UK, and South Africa, has over 100 employees and a 100% remote working ratio due to teams working collaboratively from different geographical areas across the globe.

Sophie Watson, the Head of Outreach said “Despite working remotely with a team of professionals across the globe, it feels as though we are working in the same room because we have adopted such a strong, streamlined communication style company wide.

I am very confident the high levels of productivity in my team have made room for consistent creative output and ongoing client satisfaction, not to mention people who work for us are happy, which is so important.”

Benefits of Remote Working

There are several benefits of remote working, making this a very appealing option for digital workers wanting something different from the standard way of living.

Better Work-Life Balance

For employees, remote work is a great way to achieve a better work-life balance, reducing the amount of time tied to one’s desk, under pressure from nearby bosses who expect you to work after hours. Many people also save a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent commuting, which accounts for 27 minutes on average, according to Statista.

More Opportunities

For both employers and employees, remote working means that there are often many more available opportunities. Digital agencies that are open to remote working suddenly have a global talent pool at their fingertips, while workers can join a company no matter where they might be based. For agencies, this relieves the pressure of hiring people locally who may not tick all of the job description requirements and enables more tactful hiring decisions.

Big Savings

Moving to a remote working model can reduce overhead costs significantly for businesses. While they might need to upgrade their equipment and IT infrastructure initially, they can save on office leases. Rubberdesk reports that the median office rate per person in the UK is currently £491, so there is huge potential for businesses to start saving. Many workers will also save a lot by not having to pay for daily travel to the office – National Express states that the average UK commuter spends £17.23 per day.

Future of Work

The future of working for digital agencies is very exciting. With the continued integration of AI within marketing and how seamless the transition has been so far, this is a really interesting time for workers wanting more freedom.

As Shared in a recent Raconteur piece, 48% of UK workers are ready to leave their current jobs and look for new opportunities if their employer fails to offer flexibility. This makes clear just how vital this offering has become for workers and why the focus is now on employers being able to offer this flexibility.

Supporting Data and Statistics

According to 2022 research published by Buffer, 67% of respondents said flexibility in how they spend their time was an essential factor, while 62% emphasised the flexibility to choose their work location. Workers want to have more freedom, and as we’ve seen over the last few years, this is something that many agencies can offer without suffering from reduced productivity.

According to recent data from Future Forum, employees with full working flexibility report 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than workers with no ability to shift their schedule. This flexibility allows workers to work at times that suit them instead of having to needlessly juggle personal and work-related issues simultaneously.

Is Remote Working Just a Trend?

According to the rising data trends to support remote working four years after the pandemic, we are confident it is here to stay. In fact, it is so important to many employees that they openly admit to being willing to find another job if their work location flexibility is compromised or no longer available to them. This isn’t just a temporary trend in response to a global event, but something that has become a mainstay for many, so much so that it’s hard to imagine a world without this flexibility.

Remote working can be beneficial for both employers looking to hire talent from further afield and employees keen to realign their work-life balance. And while this way of working does come with some downsides, many of those who have made the shift appreciate the greater sense of personal freedom, as reported by Buffer.

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The Global Shift Towards Remote Working for Digital Agencies