The media industry has always been a relationship led industry and without physical contact we’ve had to find new and interesting ways to build these relationships. Without our media owners quite frankly none of what we do is possible but the lockdown and social distancing meant that our partners were no longer allowed at our offices but we have continued to innovate and ensure that the communication channels remain virtually open.
So, what is the new, ‘new normal’ now that things are slowly returning to normalcy? We know that most big corporates are only returning to their offices in 2021. We’ve seen a lot of our media owner partners slowly introducing the return to offices, even if it’s in cycles. Even at The MediaShop the transition has been very slow, taking feedback along the way from employees before announcing next steps.
There are three key themes I’ve personally noted about the new, new normal – Flexibility, Accountability and Responsibility. I’ll touch on each of these but in order to be successful in this hybrid world one needs to tick those boxes.
In terms of flexibility, I mean the flexibility to understand that online meetings do not need to take place in front of your desk. I have noted in the past few months a lot more people in the industry across client, media agency and media owners attending online meetings “remotely”. I use the term loosely as initially it was used to describe working from home, but as South Africans love to say “the country is open” and as long as I am contributing to the key inputs and outputs of any meeting I can attend it from anywhere. I could even take a “holiday” to New York and still be productive as long as the meeting is in my diary. This is a very extreme example of course but we need to be flexible enough to realise that jumping on a call is not the equivalent of sitting in traffic for an hour to get to your client’s office or vice versa.
One of the iconic lines from Spiderman comes to mind for the next theme – with great power comes great responsibility. Working remotely in the past was almost a privilege enjoyed by those senior enough to make the decision to do so. However, with the pandemic came the need for everyone to work from home. The expectation was that we would all be wise enough to make the best use of the time we have, even without the cameras of “big brother” watching over you. As we head more into our new, new normal we need to continue to be accountable to our employers, our clients, to our suppliers and partners even without the watchful glare that stood over us in our office spaces.
We are now managing our own time, the expectation again from our employers, our clients and our suppliers is that we will continue to make the best of the time we have daily and the time they pay for. I can imagine for some that sneaking a quick nap in between meetings can be such an attractive proposition, however it’s up to us to know that in the middle of festive campaign planning taking a nap is probably not the best idea especially since it would never have happened under the old normal conditions.
So, the new, new normal will need to see media professionals improve on their ability to be flexible, have increased accountability in light of the fact that no one is watching your movements and lastly, maintain an increased level of responsibility. This is the new normal 2.0.