Moruff Adenekan, Managing Director, PR Redline advises that agencies should be open-minded as the post COVID-19 era may lead to work review with attendant fee slash et al. Full interview below
As a player in marketing communications how has the Covid-19 affected the industry?
I think it’s too early in the day to categorically say how it has affected the industry, we are still in the thick of the pandemic. What we are seeing now is an industry, like others, that is still trying to respond to the exigencies of the moment. People are working from home, meetings (with staff, clients and partners) are virtual – telephone, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp etc.
One of the most glaring fallouts of this pandemic on the industry is reduction in revenue. Many clients are not doing much at the moment, their operations are locked down too, hence nothing to market or communicate. They too are having hard times. And because everyone is home, personnel face some distraction they didn’t have when work was done in the office. This may have some effects on productivity – output vs delivery timing.
Do you see or foresee a change in the mode of work or trend after the Covid-19 experience?
I honestly hope for this to happen, I am however reluctant to believe that it will happen so soon, knowing who we (Nigerians) are, as a people. What is happening now, like I said before, is a people responding to the exigencies of the moment. I am more inclined to believe that once these exigencies fizzle out, people are more likely to revert to their default work mode and everything may go back to near normal. Yes, a number of changes will occur but not a significant shift.
Secondly, I don’t even think many people will prefer working from home, for instance. They will be spending more on power and the internet if the pace of work and delivery time expected while working from the office is anything to compare with working from home. And of course, not many companies can afford the distraction from the home environment.
One thing is certain, more agencies and companies will experiment working from home on some days for their staff. We at PR Redline already started with one day a month (work from home) with keen attention to the productivity level while working from home, studying key inhibitions and response time compared to working from the office. Our ultimate goal is a day or two a week in the end and this has nothing to do with the usual annual leave.
What is the trend and how will this affect the industry?
The most prominent trend I can see now is that people have moved more towards virtual interactions. Given the situation, we don’t have any choice though.
This trend may not continue 100% in the same format we see now post-COVID-19 but interactions, especially informal ones, will not return completely to what they used to be pre-COVID-19. The regular weekly review meetings which involved traveling from Ikeja to Ikoyi, Victoria Island etc may turn to once a month which I have always advocated though. Others will be virtual.
For the adventurous who want to push the trend, I foresee some kind of contractual issues that may lead to scope of work review, professional fee slash and litigations.
Going forward, what’s your counsel to industry practitioners?
My advice will be for practitioners to take things slowly and not jump off too early. We need to carry out empirical cost-benefits analysis of the situation and know what new to imbibe, things to modify and what to retain.
And, more importantly train the workforce to be able to adapt to whatever transformation that may be introduced in the workplace with commensurate remuneration.