Two-thirds of CMOs fear creativity will be impacted by remote working, study finds

While many brands have discovered a hybrid working model can be effective, the majority of CMOs fear continual lack of physical communication between marketers could impact creativity.

More than two-thirds of CMOs are concerned that less time in the office with colleagues will negatively impact creativity, according to new research.

The study by LinkedIn, which was shared exclusively with Marketing Week, finds 58% of senior marketers already believe the pandemic has weakened social ties between staff as some team members have never met in person.

With the vast majority (86%) of businesses in Europe planning to offer employees greater flexibility around where they work, top-level marketers fear this might lead to employees feeling less comfortable with each other, which in turn will impact ideas generation. This is partly because a third of marketing leaders believe hybrid working models and remote working makes it harder for people to build meaningful relationships.

As well as impacting creativity, there is a concern marketing leaders could fall behind on the latest developments, with the majority of CMOs (88%) saying they learn more about new marketing trends by speaking to younger team members, particularly in an office environment.

Continuing to invest in equipping teams both from a resilience and a capability perspective will be key.

Pete Markey, Boots

But despite the challenges, three-quarters (76%) acknowledge flexible working is key to attracting great talent and improving workforce diversity (86%), both of which lead to bolstering creativity.

More than a third (37%) of chief marketers say their company is moving to a hybrid working model, while 22% are moving exclusively to remote working. Only 17% feel the need for employees to work from the office full time.

The top priority of more than three-quarters (76%) of marketing leaders over the next six months will be establishing new ways of working and helping employees to adapt. The key skills highlighted as being crucial for CMOs to lead a distributed workforce are trust (35%), inclusive leadership (35%) and communication (34%).

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Boots CMO Peter Markey believes these findings have come at a “key time” for the industry.

“The marketing teams that succeed will be those that embrace the very best of what hybrid working can bring, balancing increased flexibility with building in those key meetings where meeting face-to-face is essential, including critical moments in the creative and planning process,” he says.

“Continuing to invest in equipping teams both from a resilience and a capability perspective will be key, as well as ensuring planning ahead creates those key moments for team members to meet, interact and build relationships.”

He adds: “At Boots we are working hard to continually support our teams and work closely with our agency partners as we balance working from our offices and working from home.”

Tom Pepper, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions EMEA and LATAM senior director, believes investment in training and technology will be key to making new working models effective and mitigating the impact it has on ideas generation and creativity.

“Creativity is crucial to brand building and an essential part of being a marketer, so it’s only natural that marketing leaders are concerned about how hybrid working will impact this important skill,” he says.

“Marketers who successfully overcome these barriers will be able to ensure all creative voices are heard and no idea is lost. Teams that do this will be the ones that produce the leading world class campaigns of tomorrow.”

LinkedIn conducted the survey among 1,340 C-level executives, including 263 CMOs, across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Earlier this year, a global study from consultancy group EY found over half of employees would consider quitting if employers don’t provide a degree of post-pandemic flexibility in terms of when and where they work.

In order to overcome the challenges, brands including Unilever, Nationwide and Henkel are experimenting with new working patterns to provide employees with a better work/life balance post-Covid.