Striking the balance: Top trends in a rapidly evolving work landscape

Striking the balance: Top trends in a rapidly evolving work landscape


Vivien Lin, Paige Reilly, Heather Jones

If there’s one constant in the world of branding and marketing, it’s that nothing remains the same for long. In addition to rapid developments in tech and ever-evolving consumer demand, the segment is also subject to the rigorous ebbs and flows of the economy, news cycle, and political climate.

We sat down with Paige Reilly, Heather Jones, and Vivien Lin to get their take on trends this year. Here’s what they had to say, as viewed through leadership lenses in change management, marketing and brand operations, and design.

Trending: AI is helping marketers do more with less

The launch of Chat GPT at the start of 2023 saw AI rapidly make the front page of every tech blog and LinkedIn feed. As this emerging technology evolves, AI tools like ChatGPT or Mindjourney will continue to develop into promising tools brands and marketers can use on a day-to-day basis.

According to Paige Reilly, Director of Marketing and Brand Operations:

“With AI, we’re seeing a lot of marketers thinking about how machine learning is going to help do more with less. And, with the rise of AI tools, we’re undoubtedly going to see marketers using AI to enhance marketing strategies and drive better results. Before marketing teams can successfully use these new AI tools, they must spend some time tidying up their marketing operations to become ‘Infrastructure Ready.’

“This might mean looking at their teams to make sure they have the skillsets and knowledge to leverage AI, streamlining processes to enable a seamless integration of AI into existing workflows, and auditing tech capabilities to ensure they have the right systems in place to support AI in daily operations. Finally, tidying up the marketing function can give CMOs an opportunity to align AI initiatives with the goals and objectives of the business.”

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It’s also helping design departments speed things up

As Vivien Lin, Design Director, sees it, AI is also having a moment thanks to its ability to help creative teams generate ideas.

“From a design perspective, we’re seeing agencies and studios starting to use AI to generate iterations of an idea, or to help speed up the creative process. Some smaller agencies are even using it as a kind of ‘third person’ to bounce ideas off.”

The takeaway

Recent developments in AI are creating opportunities for markets to do more with less but necessitate a strategic approach when it comes to broader applications.

Trending: Sustainability is set to make even bigger waves throughout the year

As we began to see last year, younger generations of consumers are starting to make spending decisions based on how well companies engage with sustainability.

According to a recent Nielsen study, 66% of consumers consider sustainability when purchasing luxury goods, and more than 50% of consumers will pay more for sustainable products. As Gen Z and even Gen Alpha enter their purchasing years, these numbers are likely to go even higher.

It’s also challenging brands to find ways to remain profitable, and sustainable

According to Heather Jones, Director of Client Engagement and Lead of the Change Management Practice, as this trend continues, companies will need to get creative to navigate these challenges. “How can organizations continue to source responsibly, and maintain principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and sustainability, while remaining profitable at the same time?”

Heather also pointed out that this issue will be even more nuanced for larger brands, adding:

“For global brands, the challenge becomes how to apply a sustainability lens on a global scale. A lot of them say they want to make sure they’re sourcing sustainability-minded vendors or that they’re having serious conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion. But when they do business in a variety of countries, each with a different set of government regulations, how are they going to make it happen?”

The takeaway

As sustainability matures into a must-have for consumers, brands and marketers will need to update their approaches accordingly.

Trending: The remote workforce is here to stay

As the pandemic fades into the rear view, the rise of the remote workforce looks like it’s here to stay. As employee mental health and the desire to achieve a work/life balance remain at the forefront of the discussion, companies will need to find ways to adjust to the new reality.

“I think flexibility is going to continue to be a priority for what matters to employees, similar to the trends around mental health and well-being.” Heather said. “Companies are asking the tough question around, ‘How can we accomplish organizational goals and stay in tune with our workforce, when everyone is working remotely?’ It will become increasingly important for companies to ensure they have the right tools and collaborative tech they need to be productive, efficient, and attract and retain top talent.”

It all comes down to finding the balance

As remote workers and hybrid work environments become the norm, we can expect companies everywhere to continue to study and debate the benefits of face-to-face interactions vs video.

“I think organizations are still struggling to find a balance that works for employees and employers” Heather added. “How often do you require people to be in an office environment that no longer feels as good as it may have prior to the pandemic?” Finding the sweet spot where employees are thriving, productive, and engaged, irrespective of location, is likely where employers will need to have intentional strategies outlining when in-person interactions are optimal vs video conferencing.

The takeaway

Watch for hybrid and remote work environments continue to grow in prominence.

The coming year is sure to be one filled with surprises, both for marketers and society in general. A great way forward is to remain as open as possible to change, and ready to pivot at a moment’s notice. That marketing plan that looked set to make a splash when it was conceived last year, may not be as effective moving forward. As always, only time will tell.