If anything, the pandemic has taught those in the public relations industry that we can fully do our jobs remotely. Client communication switched from in-person to Zoom, and staff meetings were handled the same. In some ways, productivity went up – without clear separation of work/home/work-life balance, many of us found ourselves putting in longer days.
So then why am I arguing for the return to the office for PR agencies? For many reasons. But, here are 5.
But a big one is that intangible quality that happens when you share a good laugh with a colleague or get a great new idea walking with your work friends to get a cup of coffee. Creativity is a cornerstone of smart PR work, and it’s been hard for many to feel inspired or get creative while working alone. Every. Single. Day.
Work Isn’t Distracted
Also, (and who’s with me here?), Zoom just isn’t getting it done. Zoom fatigue is REAL! Plus, looking at yourself that many times throughout the day certainly depressed me on occasion. In-person meetings are more genuine. You have more earnest conversations. You aren’t distracted by your email or slack dinging right behind Zoom. There’s no talking over one another. And I think you get to the heart of the matter more quickly – saving everyone time.
Who here has brainstormed with their colleagues virtually during this pandemic? Yup, me neither. Brainstorming is really tough to do virtually. Remember the days of booking a conference room with a giant whiteboard and spitballing ideas about a particularly challenging account? Remember leaving those meetings feeling re-energized? When have ANY of us felt energized during this pandemic, let alone in our virtual work atmosphere?
We all need to remember how to interact socially. There will be a time, in the not-so-distant future, where networking and attending events will be a thing again. Are you cringing just thinking about having to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger? Baby steps then, folks! Start by engaging with your not-so-scary colleagues in the comfort of your own office.
Necessary Experience For Newbies
It’s good for the young. We seasoned PR professionals have decades of experience under our belts, working in office settings, taking lunch meetings, and attending after-work events. But those just starting in their careers amidst this pandemic have none of that experience. These first years working after college are so formative in understanding how the world works – and it doesn’t work over Zoom.
While I don’t anticipate many PR firms mandating a full five days per week to return to the office, I think most will require a partial in-office work week. Balance is key in work and one’s personal life. If we can all feel like on our days at home, we can have more time to get ahead with household chores or pick our kids up after school instead of a babysitter, we’ll be able to feel more focused, inspired, and grateful to leave our houses and work in the office.
– By Annie Pace Scranton