Digiday+ Research: The future of agency work is remote(ish)

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This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

The rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19 could mean that people will have to work from home for a little while longer.

That possibility should suit much of the agency world just fine, according to new Digiday+ research.

In each of the past three quarters, Digiday has surveyed agency professionals on how they’ve adapted to life during the ongoing pandemic. The survey asked respondents both how recently they had done certain once-normal activities, such as going to the office or traveling to another city for work, and when they’d be willing to do them.

While the survey’s participants have not been consistent from quarter to quarter, all three surveys have been taken by representative numbers of people — the smallest sample collected for any one survey was 72 people — and they show that appetite for a return to full-time office work is diminishing.

Close to half of the respondents to November’s survey said they are not willing to return to that style of work within the next year. Only about a quarter of the most recent survey’s respondents said they’d be willing to return to the office full time within the next three months.

While both experts and laypeople have consistently misjudged how long it would take to get the pandemic under control, it would be hard to attribute the trend purely to cynicism or health anxiety. Over that same time period, the share of respondents that said they’d attended work or personal events in-person has been steadily increasing, though the share of respondents who said they’d attended social functions comfortably exceeded most of the work functions. 

As the year has worn on, both agencies and publishers have figured out how to do their jobs remotely, and many agency employers apparently feel that having at least a partially remote workforce is just fine. About a third of agency professionals now say they can work from home permanently, up slightly from the beginning of the year, when around a quarter said they could.


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