The recent Corona Virus outbreak has lead to a lot of organisations allowing people to work from home when previously they could not. Even in Japan, a country that values tradition and whose business tradition has been to work long hours in the office every day, has now been allowing more employees to work from home. Though adoption has been slow in comparison with the rate it happened in Britain.
WFH (Work from Home) is now the new acronym we’ve adopted and it reminded me of the direction I thought marketing was going a few years back. If there’s one industry that could easily operate on a WFH basis under regular trading conditions is Marketing.
Outsourced Work From Home
We have all of the tools to WFH and our workforce are often outsourced to locations like India or the Philippines. Even within the UK, we will often bring in an outside consultant in areas like SEO, or use various agencies for PR and marketing.
Although we’re set up and ready to work from home, the reason this hasn’t begun to happen more is cultural. We’re not quite ready culturally to WFH, but circumstances have forced our hand in the short term.
Conservative Working Habits
I jumped on this train of thought after reading about flexible working helping to play a role in closing the gender pay gap. I wondered why flexible working wasn’t commonplace in marketing; home to some of the best productivity tools on the market.
The current situation it seems has come about because of “conservative views regarding the division of labour in the UK, where most mothers take on the bulk of childcare and housework”. It’s probably also the reason shop opening hours are 9-5, though nowadays 9-8 or later is common to get working people through the door.
Women were ‘free’ during the day to do the shopping, while the men were at work, but now we’re all working. We have supermarkets and 24hr convenience stores because we are working during the day or are on unsociable hours.
Are We Ready For Change?
Many things have changed in recent history, but 9-5 culture in the white collar workplace has been slow to adapt. Even in recruitment, a very competitive area, it’s all 8-5 at best. I haven’t seen any recruitment companies that work during the evening, say 1pm to 9pm to approach people and conduct interviews outside office hours.
Equally, the market may not be ready for recruitment calls during the evening when people are trying to relax after a hard day at work. However, some people might be more comfortable having conversations about their career at a time when they’re not worried about bunking off work.
Work Will Adapt
The ideas I had for marketing, the full version of which you can read here, explore working irregular hours. With the nature of marketing automation tools, we’re not tied to a specific piece of equipment. We can also work outside 9-5 hours and still deliver work during that time.
In business, I feel all change is slow unless something forces it to change. Although this is a very exceptional circumstance, it has demonstrated that working from home is possible for a lot of sectors and job types.
I hope that once we’re past this current crisis, flexible working is made available to more workers, even a few days per week.
I’m interested to hear what you think. Do we still need the 9-5 grind, or is flexible working the way ahead?