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Can Creative Businesses Work from Home Long-Term?

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed working habits during lockdown and beyond. Many major companies have announced that employees can work from home long-term, but will these be sustainable for creative businesses?

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A recent study into home working from Microsoft found that productivity levels were actually boosted by working from home, potentially due to less interruptions. However, the report also stated that business leaders are reporting a decrease in innovation around core products and services, possibly due to “workers report feeling more distant from company culture, less close-knit to teams and less collaborative”.

This suggestion that employees feel less collaborative is a major concern for creative business planning to let employees work from home as working together is such a major factor in the industry – both collaborating between employees, management and the client base.

Here we look at some potential pros and cons and whether creative businesses can work from home long-term:

Brainstorming Sessions

Whether it’s creating a new product, running an ad campaign or implementing new branding, brainstorming sessions are vital for creative businesses. The discussion of ideas can also be done over video call, but can often lack the creative energy from having people together in the same room.

What’s more, whilst meetings may be the official setting for many meetings – often the best ideas come from informal exchanges between co-workers in social settings such as restaurants (with a few drinks often being a useful catalyst to get the creative juices flowing!)

If you are a business whose currency is ideas, you can’t beat being in the same room – one area that Zoom calls just can’t replace.

Employee Satisfaction

Creative businesses thrive when their employees are happy and working from home can potentially help workers’ sense of wellbeing.

It’s clear that some employees have enjoyed working from home and would like it to continue, with some benefits including:

  • No commuting time/costs
  • More time for family/school run
  • Feeling healthier (less exposure to workplace illnesses and more time to exercise)
  • Greater productivity (14% more according to one study)

On the other hand, some employees have reported feeling isolated, lacking the everyday in-person interaction with colleagues and change in routine that the workday brings.

Having optional work from home days could be a big bonus for creative businesses when hiring as well, and is certainly a factor for jobseekers in the new market – with over 50% of job seekers saying their preferred working environment would be split between home and office.

Despite this, the benefits of having entire teams in the office at the same time means it’s better to have a more fixed work from home day/s – such as Friday – so that all team members are present in the physical working environment on the majority of work days.

Attractiveness to Clients

Any creative business needs to be able to attract new clients, and with big contracts decided by fine margins, how does the lack of an office rank as a factor?

Put simply, it could be a disadvantage in gaining larger contracts, with bigger brands looking to visit your premises and get an insight into your company culture unable to do so. There may also be concerns about confidentiality, with digital information in particular potentially less secure at employees’ homes rather than an office environment.

If you are operating a creative agency solely from home, you may also struggle to justify charging large agency fees – with clients opting for cheaper freelancers instead.

Thinking about how your creative business is perceived by clients is a big consideration and – if your client base deals with larger or more sensitive contracts – you may prefer to abandon home working plans.

That said, any creative business is judged on the work it produces – and if the workforce is more suited to homeworking and delivers results, the client may not care where the workforce is based.

Is Home Working the Best Option for Creative Businesses?

There’s no doubting the benefits of home working for employee satisfaction, with the option to have home working now a key factor for job seekers.

Despite this, for creative businesses getting employees in the same room is vital for brainstorming sessions and constructive meetings with clients. The value of informal discussions with other members of staff also can’t be understated – something that just can’t be done with remote working.

On top of this, having an office space also gives you the ability to attract larger clients, although ultimately – as with any creative business – if the results are good, the client might not care where you work!

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