How marketers are reshaping culture and collaboration for a post-pandemic era
For 75% of marketers, the pandemic has permanently shifted how they communicate and collaborate at work, according to the seventh edition of Salesforce’s ‘State of Marketing’ report. At the Festival of Marketing, senior marketers from Metro Bank and Just Eat shared how they are overcoming new challenges and realising new opportunities.
With teams working remotely - and, indeed, from anywhere with an internet connection - how can marketers create new processes and structures to maintain the collaboration and creativity they have thrived on in the past?
That was the question Jonathan Beeston, product marketing director for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, posed to two senior marketers from Metro Bank and Just Eat at the Festival of Marketing.
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He opened the session with insights from the seventh edition of Salesforce’s ‘State of Marketing’ report, into the extent of change that has occurred in marketers’ working practices over the past 18 months. The differences from before the pandemic are profound.
“Nine out of ten marketers have said that what they do, whether that's digital engagement strategy or how they organise themselves, has changed completely, or somewhat changed. And what's really interesting is that 78% of customers are also saying that the crisis should be used as a catalyst for improvement,” said Beeston.
Most marketers appear to have taken this message from customers to heart, because the data shows 75% of them say the pandemic has permanently shifted how they collaborate and communicate at work.
“Our job is to find the stories that connect with audiences and engage customers.”
Emily Latham, Channel 4
Metro Bank: ‘Recreating micro-moments’
Jessica Myers, director of brands and marketing at Metro Bank UK, acknowledged that she and her team have yet to “nail” collaborative exercises such as workshops when the participants are not all in the room, but added that they are benefiting from the unprecedented level of virtual networking that remote working has enabled.
“When you've got the entire company working virtually, that seems to work, and when you've got the entire company in the office, that also seems to work. But we're now moving into this new wonderful world of hybrid, where we have the best of both, and we're all trying to navigate what that looks like. How we bring teams together is going to be really interesting,” said Myers.
“One thing that has been fascinating is how doing everything virtually has increased how many networking activities you're able to do. I've never been to as many panels or listened to [as many] different speakers or been to [as many] different networking events as I am now. Previously I would think, ‘How on earth am I going to fit this all in?’ My team and I are now far more able to join these things, which has been brilliant.”
Recreating organic conversations that happen in “micro-moments” is high on Myers’ agenda for successful hybrid working.
“Normally, when we’re all sitting together, we spark creativity and ideas off each other - the flow of conversation picks up from person to person - which doesn't necessarily happen when we're communicating virtually. And that's why we need to focus on recreating those moments, not only from a collaboration and creativity perspective, but also as we start to think about career journeys, and how we grow our talent coming through the organisation,” explained Myers.
Click here to watch the session on demand at the Festival of Marketing
Just Eat's Matt Bushby on adapting to digital working
Just Eat: Building on the best of the last 18 months
Also appearing in the session, Matt Bushby, Just Eat’s UK marketing director, said it was up to leaders to support teams to get the most out of new ways of working.
“We've definitely been more productive, with fewer distractions, and from a personal point of view, we've seen more of our families and had the opportunity to remove chunks of time we spent on the train at either end of the day. But what we have lost is that collaboration and communication, that creativity that comes with being together,” Bushby reflected.
“Since we got the team together physically for the first time since the pandemic, we talked about how people had felt over the last 18 months - what they're excited about in the future and what they also felt anxious about. That's a conversation we would never realistically have had before this pandemic. That helped us think about the best things that we took from the last 18 months, and the things we missed, and how we build on that.
“It's contingent on us as leaders to think about how we bring people into this new hybrid world, and how we help support them to get the most out of that.”
Keeping culture alive
Key for Bushby has been maintaining company culture while working virtually, away from office perks like “fried breakfast on a Monday morning” or “the drinks trolley”, and working harder to foster team engagement.
“We’ve done some stuff that worked really well. We’ve done disastrous stuff like online pasta making, which was awful. But because culture becomes less organic virtually, it becomes something you really do need to focus on,” Bushby noted.
Similarly, cultural fit when recruiting has become even more important for Metro Bank’s Myers since the pandemic.
“You know a Metro Bank person when you meet them, and if you can build a rapport with somebody through a screen, you know they're going to fit culturally within the team and the organisation - building a diverse team of people who are going to fit well together and work well together is critical,” said Myers.
Having “problem-solving individuals” who can work cross-functionally across the business’s challenge means you can build a culture that “people really engage with and enjoy”, Bushby added.
“Those fundamentals don't change whether we're in lockdown or not, but the way in which we go about doing them sometimes has to evolve.”■