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2021 Creative Management Report: Creatives Grew in Productivity and Skills Despite Fewer Resources and Heavier Workloads

inMotionNow, a leading provider of marketing resource management (MRM), and InSource, a professional association for creatives released the new 2021 Creative Management Report identifying industry changes originatingfrom the last year, along with key creative trends to watch over the next 12 months.

The fourth annual survey evaluated over 400 creatives and marketers and noted that creative and design teams are emerging from the challenges of the pandemic with fewer resources and greater demands for creative work. However, on the positive side of things, they revealed to have shown remarkable adaptability, learned new technical skills, and increasingly partnered with outside creative agencies and freelancers.

“Creative teams have experienced a profound change in the work environment. Some of these changes will grow into lasting trends: Working more with outside resources, like agencies and freelancers, refining the creative process, and becoming more data and metrics focused.”

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Top Challenges

The participants of the survey revealed the top three challenges to be; speed, lack of resources, and volume.

  • The expected speed at work — 73%
  • Having enough resources — 61%
  • Value for demand — 59%

Another significant point to note here is that for the first time in four years, the participants didn’t identify to be seen as strategic contributors among the top three challenges. Hence, employers did consult participants for creative works in the face of the pandemic and remote work.

There were other stats that supported this conclusion. They included:

  • 72% said their priorities were modified
  • 60% said the content evolved over the course of production

Layoffs, Budget Cuts, but also Creative Ingenuity

58% of creative teams said that they met larger workloads last year, which reflects the resource constraints they struggled with.

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  • Layoffs or furloughs — 31%
  • Budget Cuts — 31%

In spite of the mentioned struggles, 57% of participants did reveal that they became productive. Additionally, two-thirds revealed to have learned new skills such as interactivity, video, live streaming, and podcasting.

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In-House vs. Freelancing

The global pandemic tipped the balance that was leaning towards the in-house over the last years. 86% of respondents reported that they are currently engaged with agencies and freelancing. Moreover, 2021 is cited to witness more work send over to outside resources. The primary reason behind the switch to agencies and freelancing was due to the access to specialized skills. Around 64% of participants confirmed that. While 44% followed up with the need for increased capacity, 24% with developing strategy, and 20% sits at the rate to get the work done faster.

Improved Reporting and Metrics

In addition to all the stats above, 26% of creatives also noted to refine their creative operations to better understand their resource allocation. Further, the report revealed why they re-focused their concentration on reporting as:

  • Managing team capacity and resources — 57%
  • Plan for Future Needs — 51%
  • Continuous Improvement — 51%
  • Promote the Value — 44%

Their response towards tracking top metrics include:

  • Total projects completed— 68%
  • Total Projects requested by person or department — 42%
  • Rounds of review to final approval — 39%
  • Average time to complete by project type — 28%

Commenting on findings of the survey, inMotionNow’s Director of Marketing Molly Clark said, “The survey data suggest creative teams have experienced a profound change in the work environment this past year. Some of these changes will grow into lasting trends: Working more with outside resources, like agencies and freelancers, refining key aspects of the creative process, and becoming more data and metrics focused in order to speak the language of the business.”

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