Two-thirds of planners found it harder to work with creative colleagues during pandemic

Many aspects of working life became tougher, APG survey finds – but more than seven in 10 want to continue working in planning.

Working from home: has been challenging for many working in advertising (Photo: damircudic/Getty)
Working from home: has been challenging for many working in advertising (Photo: damircudic/Getty)

More than two-thirds (67%) of agency planners have found it harder to work with creatives during the pandemic, compared with just one in 12 (8%) who have found it easier.

That’s one of the starkest results from a survey of 337 planners carried out at the start of March 2021 by the APG.

Creatives were the only group of colleagues or external partners a majority of planners found more challenging to work with during the pandemic. Planners were more likely to say other types of colleagues and external partners were neither harder nor easier to work with.

After creatives, the group next most likely to pose problems was clients, who 45% of planners found it harder to work with it. But at the same time, almost a quarter of respondents (24%) said it was easier to work with clients, a higher proportion than for any other role.

Significant numbers also found it harder to work with designers (40%) and account people (37%), with fewer saying the same about producers (24%), media (21%) and researchers (18%).

Harder and less enjoyable

Aside from the challenges of human interaction, a year spent working mostly at home has had a negative impact on planners in several ways, the research found. Sixty-four per cent said they had found their jobs more demanding overall, 65% have struggled to maintain work/life boundaries and 61% have worked more hours.

More than half of all respondents (57%), and 71% below director level, said they had been given more responsibility since the start of the pandemic – but this has not translated into greater job satisfaction.

Fourty-six per cent of planners said they were finding the job less enjoyable – compared with 19% who found it more enjoyable. And 35% now consider work to be less important than prior to the pandemic, against 21% who see it as more important.

These figures could be influenced by other factors identified in the research: 61% said they felt more cut off from peers than before. Respondents were also more likely to say they were managed and supported worse than before (31%) than they were to say better than before (18%).

More than half (53%) of respondents said the pandemic had affected their career plans – with that number rising to 61% of those below planning director level, and 65% among all planners from an ethnic group other than white. Across all agencies' roles, staff from ethnic minority groups are more likely to be in junior positions.

Despite this, 72% of respondents said they probably wanted to keep working in planning, with 40% being sure this was the case. A further 16% said they were undecided.

After restrictions lift, planners overwhelmingly want to work either two or three days a week in the office, with 36% giving each answer. Only 6% would prefer to work from home all week, with even fewer (5%) gagging to return to the office five days a week.