At the start of the year, Forbes Magazine predicted that the ‘blended workforce’ would be one of the 10 key workplace trends that will mark 2017. Head of Strategy, Shelby Haslam, discusses how the team are already bringing this approach to client relationships.
Influential business magazine Forbes has proposed that the skills shortage, growth in freelance workers, and increasingly flexible working practices, will drive what they call the ‘gig economy’: where teams are built to address a specific issue or deliver a defined project. These teams are increasingly being formed of a combination of employed and freelance staff; on permanent and short-term contracts, and working both onsite and remotely.
The advantage for businesses is clear, as firms can utilise the high-level and specialist skills that they need in the short-term, without adding to the payroll long-term.
‘Flexible teaming’ is something that we at Mobas have long believed in. We know that the aspirations of client companies are often hindered because they don’t have the skills or experience in-house to deliver what is required from a firm for a major corporate rebrand, or to undertake strategic marketing planning.
What’s more, the strategic thinkers that make up the core of the Mobas team may be essential to a company undergoing a period of change, but would be unsuited to the long-term delivery of the resulting plan, which is more suited to practical project managers.
We have overcome this issue by building a new model, based on flexible teaming. For many years members of the Mobas team have been embedded within client teams to meet their needs: providing hands-on assistance and enhancing the capabilities of the in-house team. This may mean that the client business has access to a Strategic Marketing Director for a set number of days a week, or a dedicated Account Manager to provide practical assistance in delivering key campaigns. The model is flexible enough to suit each individual requirement.
The benefits of a blended workforce are many. For the client, they can call upon highly trained and professional marketers in a flexible manner. These individuals ease the workload within the client organisation, but also act as a highly efficient bridge between client and agency, drawing on and managing the wider agency team in a highly effective manner.
Each embedded staff member naturally takes on the persona of the client they are working for, making them an impassioned advocate in their agency relationships and bringing their insight into all that the agency does. This coexistence is of great value to the client as, through their advocate within the agency, they can truly maximise the benefit from each of the specialist teams at their disposal. Whether it is creative, digital or PR work, each output is inspired by a deep understanding of their business and appreciation of the role that that project is playing in the overall scheme of things.
Having worked both in-house and agency side myself, I often see agency staff getting frustrated by a client’s apparent inability or unwillingness to press on with marketing projects. They see the marketing operation in isolation, and are often unaware of the internal pressures that that team is under. The benefit of blended teams to an agency like Mobas is that our staff get to see the whole picture. We understand why an initiative might be a great idea, but there are other priorities to be weighed against it; or that there is a need to address internal processes if a business is really going to benefit from the effects of a successful campaign. Critically we can contribute to that internal debate, often drawing on our extensive experience to develop work-arounds that bring those objectives within reach.
According to Forbes, 93% of companies already identify with the concept of the blended workforce. We have all certainly witnessed a change in working practices over the last few years, and no longer think in terms of a ‘job for life’, with a hierarchical structure and managers sitting in their own ‘ivory tower’ offices.
Despite initial fears in some quarters, a more flexible way of working seems to be benefiting workers and businesses alike, and – in our experience – the trend towards a blended workforce is something to be embraced and not feared.