Working remotely, at home, at your own office, or even at a cosey coffee shop is a dream for many and a reality for some lucky bastards.
A reality where you can consolidate work and life in a healthy way is what most people seek. Work hard, doing what you love, but still enjoy spending time with your kids, family and friends is a lifestyle that more and more people wish for.
Commuting is time-consuming and expensive. And spending eight hours or more stuck in an office just because it’s the norm makes little sense.
People seek a good work-life balance and that is important for the happiness of most human beings. But this can only be fully achieved if you are in control of your time and if you can be part of the decision-making and scheduling process so you can create your own rules. That’s why freelancing is so popular right now but also not easily achieved by everyone.
Even if you are not a freelancer, if you work as a staff member, the ability to work from home, even for just a few days a week, should be possible.
We also need to know that remote work is not for everyone, every studio or every project. Not every freelancer or staff member wants that, and some projects definitely require local teams. And it’s true that some jobs will probably always require someone to be physically present.
I’ll do my best to explore and dissect the Remote Work process in the 3D Motion Design industry, its benefits and downsides, and look at some strategies to overcome the fear and lack of trust for both the freelancer the studio or client.
From my experience, most studios have a problem with remote freelance, they feel insecure and there are several reasons they feel that way.
Sometimes the Studios are not prepared for that remote interaction; their structure is old and doesn’t allow for it, or maybe they are not willing to change.
Maybe they had previous bad experiences. They don’t know the person on the other side, so trusting him/her is a challenge.
Is she working the days she is charging?
Maybe he is double booking and messes up!!
Even if you are on staff how can your boss make sure the wage he is paying is worth it.
Ok, calm down.
As legit as these fears can be, they are all avoidable. With serious strong relationships, good online networking, good planning and an open mind all these fears can dissipate. And luckily we now have a panoply of tools that are easily accessible to us which can help with this management.
Remote vs Local and some tips…
Working in-house definitely has some advantages. That’s why it is the norm. But remote working can bring you more freedom and control over your life and even cut costs if you own a studio. Let’s explore that.
Immediate feedback is important. If the Artist is present in the studio, the conversation is in real-time, any changes to the project can be addressed straight away with no back-and-forth emails or calls, this can be very beneficial for both. But for some people, it can be stressful. Having someone looking over your shoulder might influence the quality of the work. When I’m working from home, on my space with no interference it’s easier to get into “the zone”, easier to focus, and that makes me more productive. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack and Syncsketch are tools that can help with this.
If the artist is local, the studio can be almost 100% sure that, during the working hours, the freelancer is only focused on a specific project or task. (Well… Depending on what way the monitor is facing). So when working remotely, good scheduling can overcome this problem. If both the artist and the studio share a Google Calendar and agree on a daily approval method, it becomes easier to know the direction the project is going and what are the expectations for both sides. Setup a Dropbox and share a Dailies folder where you as an artist can upload your progress, like render previews or even screen captures. You can also use Dropbox Paper to share, between artist and studio, a “log” of all your steps where both can add notes, feedback, make To-Do lists and even assign tasks to the team. And of course with TeamViewer you can even work directly on the studio’s machine
If you are working from home get up early, go to the gym, have a shower, have breakfast, get dressed, grab a coffee and enjoy your life a bit before you start but be disciplined. There are people counting on you on the other side.
Making friends, going for lunch, and live networking is important. That creates strong relationships which sometimes can help the projects to go smoother. For me, this is the biggest advantage of working in-house. Go for a pint after work, go for a coffee after lunch. Remote can be very lonely. But working remotely doesn’t mean only working at home, you can share an office with a friend or use places like WeWork for example. You can also go to Meetups or even organize your own.
Learning with another co-worker, in person, is great if you need help or an opinion. Instantly you have someone there to help you. But you also have thousands of tutorials online like on YouTube, Skillshare and Udemy, and tons of Slackand Discord channels, Facebook groups, etc. My next blog post will be a list of all these tools and resources.
As an artist, you don’t have to invest in software licenses or hardware if you work in-house.But that’s something you will probably do anyway to do your personal work. If you don’t have your own machine and you aren’t doing personal projects, you should. And as a studio, if you don’t have a local team of 20 artists you will also save a big chunk of money on rent, licenses and hardware, and that means more profit :)
It’s also true that an artist working at a studio will have the chance to use jeans and t-shirts more often than pyjamas. If you are working from home get up early, go to the gym, have a shower, have breakfast, get dressed, grab a coffee and enjoy your life a bit before you start but be disciplined. There are people counting on you on the other side.
On the studio side, another big advantage of working with remote freelancers is that you can get the dream team, the best of the best, from around the world. And you can scale easily. But keep in mind you need to be fair, pay in time and be organized or else those won’t want to work with you.
Also, if the studio has a good remote work pipeline system in place, it can help them find new clients abroad and work remotely with them.
If you are starting your career as a Motion Designer, for example, working in-house either as staff or freelancer, can be the best choice, but after some years it might start not making sense. Company politics can be a problem. You might see yourself entangled into the gossip world…
In conclusion, before starting to work remotely, there needs to be very clear direction and a plan for feedback and revisions. If either party has bad habits in-house, working remotely will only amplify them.