London, 28 May, 2020: Two-fifths of PR and communications leaders plan to stick with remote working for the foreseeable future, as they face the challenge of keeping their organisations afloat amid fears of illness in the workplace.
A Changed Industry: PR after Lockdown, published today by Carta Communications, has revealed that 40% of agency and team leaders are preparing to keep their staff away from the office indefinitely. A further 36% are planning a cautious approach to returning to the workplace, with agency respondents suggesting dates between June and September, the report shows.
On the in-house side, expectations of a return to the office appear even further away, with some preparing to leave it until 2021. Overall, only 21% wish to return to the office as soon as possible.
The number one business challenge facing PR industry leaders is the decline – or potential decline – of revenue. Clients slashing and freezing budgets, planned activity being cancelled, and brands putting PR plans on hold have all been experienced or are feared by 35% of respondents.
Another key challenge, for a quarter (24%) of respondents, was how to restore their organisation’s working culture after a period of such upheaval.
The leading fear for PR and comms leaders is a second wave of colleagues succumbing to the virus if they return to the office too soon (38%).
In addition, while more than a fifth (21%) are worried that bringing their teams back too soon will cause stress and worry, a similar number (18%) are concerned about the psychological impact on their staff of delaying a return to the office too long, highlighting the conundrum facing industry leaders.
Some respondents cited fears about the safety of getting to work on public transport (12%), while the capability for social distancing and other safety measures in the workplace was a concern for just 5% of those surveyed.
Despite all these concerns, half of respondents (50%) believe that post-lockdown they will be in a better position to innovate and make long-term business improvements.
Technology is a hugely influential element in the decision for many to remain at home. Video conferencing has topped the charts for technologies and tools that have proved most useful, with 76% of respondents citing Zoom, Skype, and others as being invaluable for providing face time with staff, clients, and of course, friends and family.
In looking to future investments post-lockdown, just over half (51%) expect to invest even further in video conferencing platforms.
Matt Cartmell, Director and Founder, Carta Communications, said: “The challenges facing the industry due to Covid-19 run deeper than any that I’ve witnessed, and the industry must inevitably change as it recovers. There may, however, be much good to come: fairer standards of remote working; stronger and more sustainable support for staff; and a more holistic engagement with technologies that will enable PR to flourish in unexpected ways.”
Nicola Koronka, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Missive, said: “Social and mental health impact aside, our ability to deliver our work is unhindered by home working.”
Chris Calland, Director, Sapience Communications, said: “The main challenge will simply be ensuring we continue to win new clients as we have been doing during lockdown. We shan’t move back to the office until ready, and we’re relaxed about that. It’s more important to protect our staff and continue to grow the business.”
Carta Communications partnered with The Pulse Business to poll 43 communications leaders between 14 May and 18 May, 2020.
About Carta Communications
An explosion of innovative tools, platforms, and third party services is transforming the PR industry. Carta Communications helps these suppliers to differentiate, grow, and improve their sales performance, because no one understands PR consultancies better.
Carta has unrivalled experience of working in the PR industry, a legendary contacts book, and journalistic flair that gets our clients outstanding media coverage. Carta Communications was founded by Matt Cartmell in 2019.