“Balance is now part of most people’s consciousness”

As we approach the end of 2022, we realize that life as we knew it before the Covid-19 crisis will not return. And it doesn’t matter. A good thing, even.

Here in Munich we just celebrated Oktoberfest, and naturally the virus cases are on the rise again. But compared to just a year ago, the fear surrounding it has dissipated considerably. The panic has subsided, our immunity is lifted and we know our responsibilities. Covid-19 is no longer an unknown enemy to be afraid of.

Back when it all started in 2020, I remember Peach anticipating the next step in the advertising industry. Because of course everything we do is tied to what’s going on in Adland. And like most countries in the world, the industry was unprepared. The campaigns were at a standstill, the traffic was collapsing. Fear was the dominant emotion, and it caused many people to freeze – to freeze before they had to choose fight or flight.

Then there was proactivity – a flurry of movement as offices were closed, including 34 of ours, and workers were sent home. From there, a new way of working emerged. We have become digital nomads.

What started with the home office became more flexible and we had people working from all over the world. With geographic barriers broken down, we have seen untapped opportunities to operate globally and recruit talent from all walks of life.

Peach is a global company, and although we have a central Customer Success Center in London, we’ve learned that people don’t need to physically sit in London to work with us. This has opened exciting new doors and processes for progress.

On an individual level, there was an unexpected benefit – all the time and money saved on commuting to work had a positive impact on our close relationships. As a father, I enjoyed the time spent with my wife and children – it made a big difference in family life. For the most part, work is no longer an all-consuming entity, and it’s made more room for other things we enjoy.

Flexibility led to more freedom. I see this as the biggest lesson we can learn from this crisis.

If you look at the ones that were the most flexible and adaptable at the time, they were the ones that withstood the toughest times. An example of this is the investment that retail and e-commerce brands such as Amazon Prime and Deliveroo have put into their campaigns, while many others have seen this as a time to stop advertising.

Identifying changing times and changing customer needs, those who moved fastest reaped the most rewards while others were too scared to say the wrong thing.

Flexibility is the future, in my eyes. The advertising industry is well known for being rooted in tradition, but if that experience doesn’t shake things up, what will? Some will remember the “good old days”, asking workers to come back and get back to “normal”. But we have to get away from the old way of thinking. The world has changed and people have changed with it. Resetting it or putting it back to where it was before would be a mistake.

Flexibility is a positive thing and that’s what we all expect now. So why go back there?

Of course, I’m not saying we should never meet in person or value an office environment. A desk also has many advantages. Especially in places like creative agencies where ideas need to be tossed around the room and spontaneous discussions breed the unexpected.

In fact, after two years of virtually non-existent personal contact, I think people are appreciating real-life relationships and moments even more. People need to connect with others to make a real connection and understand each other better.

But the point is to be flexible. Encourage both. Enable hybrid working to reap the benefits of both worlds for your business and your team.

Balance is now part of most people’s consciousness. Personally, I’ve heard fewer complaints about overwork or feeling tired since we introduced a more flexible approach at Peach. The team feels healthier, happier and stronger.

So whether you’re in the office, at home, on a tropical island, or on a sailboat, enjoy work, enjoy life, and live flexibly.

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