The coronavirus pandemic had many of us trade our office desks for the kitchen table, with 71% of us working from home at some stage. While remote working became the norm out of necessity, many are now touting hybrid working—meaning employees split their time between the office and home—as the new modus operandi for the ‘average workplace’ going forward. After all, employees have grown accustomed to home comforts and forgoing the daily commute, with 47% saying they’d look for a new job if their employer didn’t offer a hybrid work model.

In one high-profile example, Apple employees circulated and responded to a survey on CEO Tim Cook’s ‘return to the office mandate’ with around 90% saying they preferred to keep their remote work privileges. Research from McKinsey also shows that 50% of employees would prefer to work from home at least three days a week. Companies such as Uber and Citigroup have already begun to put plans for a two-three day work week into play.

Implementing a long-term hybrid work model is key for retaining the right talent in a post-pandemic world. But making this switch a long-term success requires not only the right people, but the right tech infrastructure to support a digital-first workforce too. When your team is spread far and wide, it’s all too easy for team communication and collaboration to descend into isolated, siloed working bubbles without the tech and processes in place. 

With that in mind, we’re outlining the common challenges businesses face when making the switch to hybrid working, and how exactly digital asset management (DAM) is a must-have for maintaining productivity for today’s marketing and creative teams.

The biggest challenges of a hybrid work model

From difficulties collaborating effectively to reduced productivity, we take a look at some of the biggest potential pitfalls of the hybrid work model below.

1. Team spirit takes a hit

When conference calls and faceless chat messaging is your only means of communication with colleagues, it’s no surprise that both employers and employees are concerned about the impact of hybrid working on personal relationships. Deloitte’s survey of tech leaders revealed that 43% are worried hybrid work would lead to a deterioration of relationships and reduce trust. 66% also fretted that a hybrid model would make it difficult for new hires to integrate into their organization. 

Isolation is the biggest challenge, I used to bounce ideas off my coworkers, but now it is just me, all on my lonesome.
Brett Downes
SEO and Social Media Specialist at DFY Links

2. Lack of information sharing

Not only can hybrid working negatively impact relationships, but it can also undermine information sharing and cohesive collaboration that is key to achieving both team and wider company goals. Silos, in which people work towards the same goals but don’t regularly communicate on how to reach them, can be an all too easy occurrence with hybrid or remote work.

Not having the right information when you need it or managers and department heads favoring sharing information with certain people over others can delay projects and impact cohesion and productivity. Silos can also undermine the efforts of other departments — such as when the marketing team creates FAQ content that could be a big help to the sales team, who regularly tackle similar questions on the phone and via chat — without informing them, ultimately ramping up their workload. 

Duplicated work, days spent working on a project that turns out to be redundant, plans stalled because you are missing information; the problem is all too common. Ensuring the timely and effective sharing of information frequently gets overlooked in favor of more immediate priorities, but all too often the silo effect creeps in quietly, only becoming obvious after the damage has been done.
[The Color Works]

3. Productivity problems

A contentious question that employers have mentally grappled with for some time now: are people more productive at home or at the office? Undoubtedly this differs from one individual (and company) to the next. 

For many, hybrid work models have blurred the line between work and home life, leading to a lack of focus as they battle domestic distractions. Many people working from home say that they feel like their work suffers, with desktop analytics firm, Enkata, revealing that their office-based workers were 50% more productive than at home. 

On the other hand, research illuminates that certain employees work better from home. In particular, introverts can feel more in balance and experience greater contentment working from home, as their hypersensitive dopamine receptors aren’t constantly overloaded by the everyday distractions found in your typical office environment.

The jury is still out on this one, serving to highlight that a hybrid working model is the only reasonable solution to appease employees on both sides of the office vs. home working debate. 

4. Security standards can slip

From unsecure at-home networks to issues enforcing data-security compliance among remote employees, hybrid work poses several potential security issues.

In particular, the safeguarding of confidential company assets and data is a key concern. As mentioned in our article about managing digital assets effectively, 88% of companies don’t have appropriate access rights to content in place—leaving them vulnerable to data leaks and cyber-attacks. In addition, it’s easy to misplace, lose track of, or accidentally delete necessary documents. To protect their assets, companies need to centralize their digital assets and ensure processes are in place to maintain strict security protocols when accessing and sharing this content (more on that later!).

5. Growing pains from an increasing reliance on freelancers and agencies

The pandemic has led to an uptick in companies relying on freelance support, with 36% saying they were more likely to work with freelancers post-COVID. Freelancers are a great resource that can help you provide support to internal teams, bring in fresh expertise, and help you scale your operations. 

But it can be a struggle to successfully integrate freelancers with your team, ensure deadlines are met, and support them in creating content and other assets that match your brand guidelines and meet your company standards. This is another area where security standards can slip, too, when confidential assets are frequently shared with external parties.

How DAM helps set your team up for hybrid working success

Below, we take a look at how a digital asset management (DAM) platform can help address common hybrid work struggles as outlined above.

1. A central digital space for content collaboration—from creation to distribution

Creative collaboration is relatively straightforward in the office environment, whether it’s meeting-room brainstorms, impromptu dialogues with colleagues at each other’s desks, or quick chats at the watercooler. Yet going hybrid means going digital, and many businesses are struggling to replicate this style of collaboration online in a way that is natural and, crucially, productive. This is particularly true when it comes to collaborating on creative and marketing assets.

And that’s the gap that DAM solutions are filling for a growing number of companies adapting to the post-pandemic workplace (check out our customer testimonials here). Digital asset management functions as the digital home for your organization’s entire content library—whether it’s public marketing materials, confidential documents, works-in-progress, archival files, or even your brand guidelines.

As it’s cloud-based and all-digital, teams spread far, wide, and across multiple timezones have a single source of truth to access, organize, manage and share the content they need, when they need it. It empowers self-sufficiency, while simultaneously breaking down siloes.

Whether you’re using online drives, physical harddrives, or on-site servers to store your company files, DAM migration is easy (just 3 steps in fact).

And DAM isn’t just about storing and organizing your stuff. These days, DAM solutions are multi-modular platforms that support the entire content lifecycle. Bynder’s creative automation tools allow you to scale and automate the creation of branded digital assets such as advertising banners, social media graphics, and even videos

Without going into the specific features and functionality (more on that here), the tooling uses a templating model to create a high-volume of customizable assets using design templates that have fixed brand elements. That way, creatives are freed up from repetitive tasks associated with content creation to focus on higher-value activities, while marketers are empowered to create assets themselves without needing specialist skills. All while maintaining brand consistency.

By centralizing the content creation process directly in the DAM platform, hybrid working teams can not only maintain but enhance their collaborative efforts across the content lifecycle.

2. Break down silos

As highlighted above, team communication when collaborating on projects and campaigns can be a real struggle if the right tools and processes aren’t in place. The solution to project miscommunication and lengthy back-and-forth emails, Bynder’s Creative Workflow module is integrated with DAM to streamline requests, reviews, and approvals on content—from briefing right through to publication. In fact, 86% of our users reported improved collaboration within their marketing organization.

Whether it’s your colleagues or freelance network, you can keep everyone on track with standardized creative requests that clearly highlight a project’s goals, contributors, and deadlines. With configurable workflows, information-sharing and collaboration is intuitive, as stakeholders can be brought in to review and approve a project at just the right stage.

3. Level up your security

DAM solutions enable you to securely share assets with internal teams and freelancers. You can easily control permissions and track sharing and document history. Expiration features also provide additional security, prohibiting access to assets after your chosen date.

At Bynder, we also help protect your data by running regular penetration tests and vulnerability scans. We also help protect privacy and keep data secure by ensuring we are fully compliant with regulations—such as GDPR, CCPA and HIPAA.

4. Help freelancers and agencies stay on-brand

While freelancers can provide much-needed support and additional expertise, it can take time to onboard them and guide them on how to create content and assets that align with your brand. You can house your brand guidelines remotely within your DAM, centralizing and providing easy web-based access to your brand assets. 

Freelancers won’t have to fill their desktop with PDF downloads and you won’t find yourself caught in endless email loops as freelancers struggle to find the content and files they need. Our Brand Guidelines module supports self-sufficiency — as freelancers can easily find and navigate their way through your guidelines and branded content.

With a centralized cloud-based content hub, you can ensure that your freelancers have access to brand and style guides to understand how you work and capture your brand voice. Once granted permission, freelancers can easily download all the brand assets they need—from logos, videos, and presentations to guidance on how asset usage.

Overcome the challenges of remote work with DAM

Hybrid working is set to become the new normal, with creatives pushing for a flexible work schedule across all industries. Despite its rise, many companies experience setbacks as they make the move. From reduced productivity to security issues, the right DAM system can help you overcome the most common challenges of hybrid work.

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