The new office: How working from home has changed marketing agencies in Glasgow
Like so many other marketing agencies in Glasgow, and workplaces across the UK, it’s been 17 months since we’ve all sat together in our City Centre office. Empty desks, the abandoned bar cart, stacks of coffee cups gathering dust in the kitchen; the place that was once so alive with the daily grind has been eerily quiet. It’s a sad picture.
But it’s not reflective of the business as a whole. In 2021, Whitewall is as busy as ever but the way we work now is drastically different. Here are just a few of the changes we’ve made to our ways of working which we’ll carry forward into the post-covid world!
We’ve always had clients who are based across the UK – we’re connoisseurs of pre-7am flights to London. So we’ve always used video-calling to keep in touch with those who are more technologically focused. However. Nothing prepared us for how video technology would be adopted by all businesses, no matter the size, no matter the industry. We’re now on weekly video calls to almost all of our clients. And, whilst at the beginning of lockdown we were using Zoom, Microsoft Teams has upped its game in such a way that it’s now our predominant platform of use. That said – we do look forward to the day when we can travel to London and take our clients to the pub again…
The changes we’ve seen in workplace video-calling aren’t reserved for clients. Working from home wasn’t something widely adopted pre-covid, but, on the occasion that one of us did, picking up the phone was the way to reach your colleague on Sauchiehall Street. Now it’s Teams. Whilst there’s a degree of collaboration that can only be met by being in a room together, jumping on a video call is not far from it. And let’s not forget the added benefits of the calls cutting off at the appropriate time, so there’s less overspill and the option to record our brainstorms to revisit, if we ever feel we need to. Our ability to buzz someone on teams is widely used by every one of us now and it has improved our ways of working. When working separately, we’re now more collaborative, more communicative, and more of a team than before we adopted this particular technology.
At home, there are an abundance of interruptions that can happen. Life in your own house doesn’t suddenly stop because you’re no longer in the office. The mail will still come, the phone will still ring, and, if kids are involved, there’s an added layer of complexity. So we adapt to where we work, making use of all the spaces within our homes. Branching out to different rooms and areas facilitates different types of work and it’s different for each individual. This particular author does a lot of writing in her day to day. So when a deadline approaches, it’s time to find the corner of the house where there’s the least amount of noise or chance of disturbance. On the rare occasion that the sun is out, some of us opt for outdoor working. And – let’s be honest – if we’re working from home with a partner, sometimes the ideal place is as far away from them as possible.
This is something we’ll carry back to the office. We’re lucky to have branch off spaces in our office – different rooms and places – so we don’t need to just sit at our desk. It’s something that fosters a more creative working environment and something we all think will benefit us upon our return.
For a number of years, we’ve had flexible working policies in place, where team members can work between the hours of 8am and 6.30pm. During lockdown, we’ve really seen the benefits of this. Longer lies, earlier finishes – and there’s been a good balance of those who prefer the mornings and those who would rather work late. When you remove a daily commute from the equation, all of a sudden your weekend is two hours longer: you take your time cooking dinner, you go for a longer walk in the morning, or you just stay in bed with a coffee. The removal of the daily commute has given us all extra time which we’ve put to good use.
It is, however important to say at this point that we as an agency value the need to be together in a room. We believe that having a physical presence, where our clients can visit and where we can mingle, collaborate and – quite frankly – escape to is important. So our office will reopen this year. Some of us are already going back to Sauchiehall Street once or twice a week; some of us are waiting until the announcement is made by the Scottish Government.
As a result, we want the best of both worlds, and going forward we will strike a balance. We’ll have the option of working from home on Mondays and Fridays, and be office based on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Working in Glasgow
And so to our return – whenever that may be! There’s a lot of good things we can say about working in Glasgow, things that each and every one of us have missed.
First of all, the social life. The Pot Still, The Howlin’ Wolf and The Butterfly and the Pig are some of our favourite after-work haunts. Friday drinks were a big thing before Covid, with the added bonus of 4pm prosecco from the drinks’ fridge! Without being overly sentimental, the return of times like these are much anticipated.
Secondly, the food. We challenge you to find a better city with such an abundance of independent eateries – Smile Café, NYC Deli, Bloc, Kokoro, and, of course, Soups U are all favourite lunchtime spots. And we’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had Wagamama Deliveroo-d to the office, just as an excuse to sit round the table and catch up!
Finally, there’s our partners. We work with lots of other agencies, freelancers and businesses on a number of projects, a good few of whom are also Glasgow based. As far as we’re concerned, marketing agencies in Glasgow are holding their own in the national industry landscape. Glasgow is a place that’s known for its music scene, comedy, museums, and universities as much as it’s known for being friendly. It’s also known for being entrepreneurial, for social enterprise and giving back to the community. The marketing industry in Glasgow is alive and kicking and it’s all because of the above.