How does contact frequency affect team performance?

The mental health of the marketing industry is under severe strain. What can be done to relieve the pressure? 

contact frequency impacts teams

The Covid pandemic saw offices across the globe lie empty and heralded the death of the face-to-face meeting. Instead, home working, remote working and Zoom calls became the norm. 

Contact frequency and mental health

Here at Aprais, we were curious to find out how these new working practices affected relationships between clients and agencies now they were unable to connect face-to-face. Also, the impact this has on team mental health.

Perhaps unsurprisingly we discovered that contact between agencies and clients ramped up. Our data showed that in the first half of 2020, just 20.5% of clients touched base with their agency on a daily basis. During the second half of 2020 this figure leaped to 34.5%, with a further 46% checking in one to three times a week. 

contact frequency during Covid
Source: Aprais database. Rounded numbers do not add up to 100%

For agencies, the change was even more pronounced. In the first half of 2020, 31% of agencies contacted their clients daily. In the second half, this jumped to a massive 51%.

What’s crucial to note, however, is that there was no effect on the client-agency relationship as a result of all this extra contact. There was no increase in relationship scores in our database to accompany the ramped-up contact.

A cry for help

Furthermore, qualitative feedback from participants in Aprais evaluation suggested that this ‘always-on’ culture was having a notable impact on the mental health of individuals working within agency-client teams. 

An analysis of comments entered into our database revealed an increased need from clients for their agencies outside the agreed scope of work, leading to increased intensity and a perceived lack of focus. 

“Extremely full-on and exhausting”

Agency comment

There was a perception from some agencies that working hours weren’t respected and a plea for a return to more structured working practices. Participants also highlighted packed agendas and back-to-back Zoom and Teams meetings leading to a lack of time for valuable and insightful discussion, and agency staff going on leave citing burnout.

Although contact frequency of contact has lessened in 2021, it still hasn’t returned to pre-Covid levels. Meanwhile, the mental health of the marketing industry is under severe strain – a survey by industry title The Drum found 75% of workers in the global marketing industry said their mental health had worsened since the pandemic, with 62.6% reporting that their workload was having a major impact.

As we emerge from the crisis into new ways of working. It’s important that clients and agencies alike take stock of what’s effective, and what is ultimately detrimental, to team relationships and the mental health of their members.