How 9 Story stays productive in a pandemic

President and CEO Vince Commisso explains how the company will maintain its output in the long term during the COVID-19 crisis.
April 22, 2020

There are so many obstacles preventing employees from being productive while working remotely. Whether it’s homeschooling children (which might also involve re-learning some basic math), dealing with demanding pets or struggling with the stress of being alone during lockdown, it’s clear that these issues will only become more significant as the industry continues to produce content during quarantine.

For Canada’s 9 Story Media Group, the key to long-term productivity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is a commitment to constantly evolve its work-from-home environment.

Employees were given everything they needed from a technology standpoint to work remotely, says president and CEO Vince Commisso. Productivity has been high, but the company recognizes it will need to optimize each employee’s tools on an individual basis in order to maintain that level of productivity moving forward, he says.

“Some people may not have the best digital bandwidth, or home computers that can handle this type of work,” says Commisso. “Moving forward, that means we’ll have to swap out some of that [older] technology or add to what they already have to make sure they have the tools they need. That will be an ongoing process.” 

But it’s not just technology that will need to evolve as employees’ lives adjust during quarantine—best practices will also need to be updated.

“We’re collecting feedback on the work-from-home situation from each individual part of production,” he says. “Eventually, that feedback will give us data we can use to change production moving forward. We’re not going to hear from any group, whether it’s designers or animators or layout artists, that they want to do things exactly the way they did in the office. That data will allow us to optimize our processes.”

These changes will allow the company to streamline its production while employees are working remotely, Commisso says, but can also be implemented in the office once the lockdown ends.

And as crucial as it is to maintain productivity during lockdown, there is also something to be said for a little understanding, Commisso argues. If the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically alter life on a global scale for an extended period of time, productivity will inevitably be impacted. The only thing a company can do, he says, is listen to employees and support them to the best of its ability.

“This will forever change how we do business,” says Commisso. “And if this doesn’t change how [the entire industry] does business, it’s a blown opportunity.”

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