New models of working today pose a particular challenge for the creative industries, where working together in the same room is often seen as a key driver to creativity. Can you replicate that same energy and collaboration without physical interaction? Is the modern standard of hybrid or fully remote working even a possibility for creative workplaces? And how can creative leaders enable great work in a remote environment?
These are some of the questions we posed to an accomplished cross section of creative industry leaders: James Farrell, Head of Local Originals, Amazon Studios; Amy Hennig, President, Skydance New Media; Larry Jackson, former Global Creative Director, Apple Music; Rob Reilly, Global Chief Creative Officer, WPP; and Graham Taylor, Co-CEO, Fifth Season. They each offered valuable insights on the effects of – and approaches to – flexible working today.
- 32% of surveyed professionals reported they don’t think they’ll ever go back into the office full time.
- 74% say they have more energy and focus working from home instead of the office.
- 49% of professionals say they would turn down a job offer if the company mandated that they go into the office full-time.
Working remotely: the opportunities
First, our panel discussed some silver linings of remote or hybrid working. One big pro has been the opening up of new talent pools and looking beyond the traditional places for talent. Amy Hennig, for example, had been in the process of setting up Skydance New Media just as the pandemic hit, and quickly shifted her mindset away from location-based recruitment: “We realized—why be so limited in our thinking about how we can staff and recruit? The possibility of remote work actually became an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. It opened up the talent pool to a huge degree. We’ve been able to build Skydance New Media with a lot of flexibility, and with people all over the globe.”
Removing geographical boundaries is also great for introducing more diversity. WPP’s Rob Reilly has been able to connect with new colleagues from all over the world while working from home, sparking some of the most innovative and “disruptive” ideas. Meanwhile, James Farrell at Amazon Studios has repurposed time he normally would have spent traveling for work to set up one-on-ones, connecting with 150+ colleagues around the world.
Also, as Hennig pointed out, remote working allows for better democratization. When it comes to decision-making meetings, if the ‘room’ is virtual and no longer limited by size, people that wouldn’t normally be invited into that room now can be. Welcoming more people to the table, even just for observation, allows for a diversity of opinion and opens up learning opportunities for the team.
Another clear benefit to working from home is that it’s popular with so many employees and is no barrier to efficiency. As Larry Jackson observed during his time at Apple Music: “Everybody wants to work from home. We do so much efficiently, from where we are, that we’ve gotten really good at it. It’s been pretty remarkable to see what we’ve been able to do by working remotely.”