Cristián “Ritalín” León is a publicist, blogger, speaker, founder of the creative agency and marketing and branding consultant RTLN Full Stack Marketing. He is also CEO of Human Connections Media for Chile and Peru. His Marketing podcast “Ritacast” is now in its third season and is one of the most listened to in the region. The effects of the pandemic have been one of the most analyzed phenomena by the expert.
-What are we doing today in terms of labor flexibility in Chile after 2 years of the pandemic?
From my experience, talking to people in the advertising industry, I think we already understood how well remote work does for a better quality of life. Many of my friends who own agencies or production companies simply closed their offices; and they sent the computers to the houses.
I, who started my RTLN agency in this format, only get together with my team for productions and fundamentally to generate ties. Go to eat. Talk outside of glue. On a day-to-day basis, this new hybrid format gives meetings more meaning, people have a better work-life balance and that, at the end of the day, means producing better. On the customer side I also see that the hybrid format is here to stay. And that working for objectives and not “warming up seats” is a better business for everyone.
-What would be the best work model in our country, does this apply to all areas?
Clearly in Marketing and the creative industries in general, the remote format is a wonder. It “unlocks” you global talents; and it also gives you as a creative the opportunity to explore new partnerships and new projects beyond your borders. Recently I wondered the same about other industries and jobs; and the consensus is that the hybrid format is ideal. Although, I insist: in creative industries, offices -and even coworks- are already on their way out.
-What have been the main benefits/challenges of the modality in which you work?
In my case, I would separate it in two: on a personal level, it really gives me the opportunity to enjoy myself more. Being more with my children, ordering my week – right now I have been arriving from Buenos Aires to visit my eldest son; and the truth is that with my Tablet I worked perfectly for 2 days-, and to be able to afford to go to the south for 2 weeks with the family while I work as if nothing had happened. My office is my Mac, my Tablet, my microphone and my cell phone.
On the other hand, in my role as owner of my creative agency, being able to put together “fat-free” teams; really designed for the projects and clients that I have, it is wonderful. Because it also gives my team the opportunity to work on other projects, with other countries and industries. A distributed team -rather than remote-, allows to really design the “boutique” format as it should be. Custom profiles like never before. But of course, the big issue -and for that I recommend reading Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, of whom I have talked a lot on my podcast (https://bit.ly/ritacast29), those who started the “distributed” format understood quickly that the problem is not finding the talent, but how to create a corporate culture when you are not even physically with your team.
And one of the great tips I’ve read lately is given by Simon Sinek, when he says that team trust is what happens between meetings. And in zoom it does not exist. So? You have to design the spaces. The instances. Going out to eat or celebrate birthdays already becomes something really vital for your company, if you want cohesive teams.
-How do you recruit a team like the one you have and how do you work with them remotely?
The truth is that always, working in my agency or before in McCann, I learned that you have to start from the top down. And I usually have many people in my direct team with whom I have worked before. And they, in turn, have people they knew from before as well. If I’m looking for pairs, I try to get them to know each other beforehand. And while we work with illustrators from Lima, designers from Barcelona, and broadcasters from Mexico (the media agency that I lead for Chile and Peru, Human Connections Media, constantly works with teams from Mexico and Argentina)… But for long-term projects, The short turn when looking for that “cultural fit” is to try to work with people who know each other before. And if not, we get together, get to know each other and look for that connection.
What “we digital” failed to do in 10 years, the pandemic did in 8 months. And that digital acceleration is sociological, not technological. Remote work does not mean losing control of your team. It is to give your team a better quality of life; really productive meetings; and the ability to open your talent portfolio to infinity and beyond. But we must be aware that the paradigm shift puts the accent on leadership: cultural fit and managers who are not looking at the clock, but rather inspiring and mentoring.