Just as the world started to come to grips with the COVID-19 Delta variant, a new strain entered the global scene at the end of December 2021.
Some uncertainty exists as to where exactly the Omicron variant originated.
Reports stated that it was first identified by scientists in South Africa, who then reported it to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It is, however, not a given that the variant originated in that country, as the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands confirmed the presence of Omicron after re-testings before the dates of the South African announcements.
Wherever the variant originated, this fast-spreading strain is now present in most of the world.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that Omicron is the dominant variant in both the UK and the US.
Omicron cases in these two countries already accounted for between 54% and 60% of all traced and tested numbers by the end of December 2021.
The Drum, a media company focused on covering the latest marketing news and research, reported that UK and US companies are experiencing renewed staff absenteeism and losses due to Omicron.
Statistics indicate that the hospitality and healthcare sectors are especially hard hit but that marketing agencies are also suffering under the most recent COVID-19 strain.
The Drum approached reputable marketing professionals and companies to enquire how they deal with these staff shortages and still meet the demands of their clients.
Some reported that project cancellations due to Omicron were a more pressing issue than staff shortages.
Other professionals emphasised how they protect their content marketing teams from internal outbreaks through COVID-19 protocols and transparent communication about potential exposures, vaccine drives and the importance of regular testing.
Companies attested that the above approach ensures that marketing teams remain fit to perform duties and enables them to relay resources where shortages affect projects.
Industry experts reminded content marketers that Omicron is not only affecting agency staff ratios but is also impacting the day-to-day business activities of their clients.
These experts stressed that marketers should have honest conversations with their clients regarding project flexibilities when needed.
Research also indicates that freelancers are a valuable source to address deadline-driven projects when Omicron depletes permanent staff roles.
In October 2021, Forbes reported that more than “90% of companies depend on freelancers and plan to increase their use. Markets and professional specialties vary – some regions and industries are more mature than others – but, overall, freelancing is a global force.”
When asked, industry professionals confirmed that freelancers add great value to the content marketing sector but cautioned agencies to thoroughly assess and brief their freelancers to maintain the delivery of quality content.
All indications are that COVID-19 is here to stay for now.
Analyses show that companies with flexible strategies and approaches manage to function and survive in this climate.
Marketing experts advise that no one put their marketing campaigns on the back burner, but rather approach reputable content marketing agencies with a trusted fixed and freelance workforce to manage their marketing needs.