As the governments of the world are working tirelessly to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, the business world is trying to find ways to maintain momentum and productivity. 

With the inevitable restrictions on the movement of people, the advertising and marketing industry must undoubtedly lean into technology and services that enable virtual connectivity, collaboration and remote working. 

How prepared is our industry for this shift?

While Cavalry represents a small subsection in the world of virtual connectivity, collaboration and remote working, there are some positive signs to show that the advertising industry has been heading in this direction for the past 2 years. 

When companies create briefs on Cavalry, they select whether they want the freelancer to work remotely, on-site or either.  In 2018 when we first launched Cavalry, Remote working was for all intensive purposes a dirty word with 75% of all briefs being “on-site”.

This trend was particularly acute with agencies where every piece of work produced by a staff member or a freelancer is part of the product they are delivering to customers. Because of this, justifiably, there has always been a tendency to want a fair degree of oversight. This traditionally has manifested itself as needing people to work in-house.  

However over the past 2 years market conditions have played a significant role in shifting this behaviour. Many of the freelance roles that agencies need are also needed by other industries including big spenders like Banks and sexy tech businesses like Atlassian (I know of at least 4 extremely talented ex agency people there). What’s more, these competing players typically pay more and have contracts that are longer. 

With the industry losing some of its historical leverage, agencies have had to become more accommodating to attract the best talent. Working remotely is something that a lot of freelancers prefer and will respond to. 

Given these market trends, over the past 2 years we’ve started to see a steady shift in the briefs from being strictly on-site to being more open to remote working. On-site briefs dropped to 64% in 2019 and in the first two months of 2020 has dropped even further to 54%.  

“There’s more to it than only demand and supply dynamics” according to Richard Barlow, Head of Customer Experience at Cavalry, “We’ve definitely seen Company thinking start to shift. Businesses are more open to remote based working because they are seeing that quality is not impacted and productivity can often be greater than in an office.”

Breaking it down by region, the trend away from On-site freelancer briefs appear to be consistent and not isolated to one particular city. However Singapore seems to trail Sydney and Melbourne in their adoption of remote working, whereas Melbourne is the relative trailblazer.  

It will be interesting and important to see how this evolves over the course of 2020, but it seems market conditions have broken the back of the historical resistance towards remote working. While there is still a lot of progress needed, it appears remote working is slowly gaining momentum and acceptance. 

Outside of our industry businesses that enable remote working are surging. The global video conference app Zoom is providing the only bright spots in amongst a downturn in the markets. In February, Zoom business surged by 15% as a direct result of enabling international workers in China to work remotely from home. Consequently their stock stock has risen by more than 50% this year, while the Dow Jones industrial average in 2020 is down about 1.4%.

While we all hope remote working remains a lifestyle choice, its positive to know the industry is increasingly accepting, prepared and armed with the right tools and services to enable it.  


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About Cavalry Freelancing is a marketplace and management system that helps connect innovative companies with world class local freelancers with expertise in design, UX, creative, marketing, content, technology and media.  As an end-to-end Freelance Management Platform, Cavalry also supports all stages of a Freelancer gig including sourcing, curating, managing and payroll.

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