It’s not just the kids who are getting back to regular life with the return to school this month—many workplaces are staging a comeback, too. As vaccination rates for COVID-19 continue to climb globally, more companies are looking to end their prolonged work-from-home status. But mindful of the steady rise in new cases, things will remain status quo at many others.
Kidscreen checked in with production companies around the world to see what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what it means for the future of work.
Back in the office:
Georgina Lopez, executive producer/creator, Lopii Productions (Canada): We have already returned to the office. With the exception of our post-production team, we have all been working in-office since mid-July. We are a small team (five to six people max), the majority of us are double-vaxxed, and we test frequently for our productions.
Pierre Sissmann, president and CEO, Cyber Group Studios (France): We went back to the office in Europe and the US on September 1. A mask is required, and a vaccine is recommended but not compulsory. Employees will be able to work from home two days a week or more, depending on special situations.
Sylvain Huchet, producer, Watch Next Media (France): Some of our freelancers and all of the permanent staff came back in June. Starting this month, all employees will return, and we are planning to switch to a hybrid model with two to three days working from home. Our artists missed social interactions during lockdowns, but at the same time, they feel reluctant to go back to commuting every day.
Jo Daris, CCO & producer, Toon2Tango (Germany): We have been working in a hybrid way since April with our team. People can choose when they come in to the office with one mandatory day each week, and they wear a mask when they’re not at their desk. We will keep using that model.
Tom Box, CEO, Blue Zoo Animation Studio (UK): We hope to be at a point in the fall where most people (who are not on remote contracts) return to the studio at least once a month. One of our guiding principles for fostering a progressive culture is to never treat employees like school children, so we aim to give them as much trusted autonomy as possible.
Lena Byrne, co-founder, Sow You Entertainment (Ireland): Sow You was set up during the pandemic, and we are aiming to be in our new office space in Dublin by January 2022. A hybrid model is the direction we are taking. Though Dublin will be our hub, we also want to embrace an “office without walls” approach to meet the needs of the diverse talent pool we collaborate with globally on a daily basis.
Anish Mehta, CEO, Cosmos-Maya (Singapore): We are in the process of moving back to the office in stages, as carefully and responsibly as possible, in the latter half of 2021. Currently our Mumbai employees are coming into the office in pre-assigned time slots throughout the week, while still doing a good chunk of their work from home when required.
Sean Clarke, managing director, Aardman Animations (UK): Partners can be in the office for up to two days of the working week, and studio crew [can go in] full time. We are currently in the process of formulating a hybrid model with a view to reconfiguring the studio to be more hotdesk-oriented. We’re [putting tech in place] to pilot this new model at the beginning of 2022.
Jennifer McCarron, CEO, Thunderbird Entertainment and Atomic Cartoons (Canada): Starting this fall, we plan to use a hybrid model for our locations in LA, Vancouver and Ottawa, but how it unfolds depends on the ever-evolving [local] government regulations.
Still at home:
Jon Rutherford, president, Boat Rocker Studios, Kids & Family and Rights (Canada): There is no plan for an immediate full-scale re-opening. Offices are open for those who want to return, subject to local guidelines and health & safety protocols. The vast majority of our employees are working from home.
Lindsey Adams, founder, Daily Madness Productions (Dublin): We are planning on going back to the office in Q1 2022. We gave up our old space because the layout was quite compact, and we are moving into a larger space to allow for social distancing to keep everyone at ease.
Frank Falcone, president, Guru Studio (Canada): We have no set plans to return to the physical workspace as remote work has been very effective, and we have made considerable investments in pipeline and server improvements to better accommodate our staff’s needs. There will always be a need to see people face to face, but those in-person meetings will need to be constantly weighed against the challenges of those types of interactions, such a long commutes and safety protocols.
Sean Gorman, president, Cloudco Entertainment (US): We originally set September 7 as a target, but with the rise of the Delta variant and related precautions in cities where we have staff, such as LA, Cleveland, and London, we are very much playing it by ear.
Niamh Herrity, head of production, Pink Kong Studios (Ireland): The honest answer is we don’t know yet. I can’t see it happening this year—maybe 2022—but for now, WFH is working out really well for us. We have our pipeline streamlined, video calls work perfectly, and if we have to meet in person for some meetings we can. So if staff want to work from home, that is OK with us.
Photo courtesy of Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash