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Life As A Remote Studio

It’s been 2 years since the pandemic shut down and work looks a lot different than it did circa 2018. We used to commute to workplaces, greet colleagues at 8:55 with our $5 coffee in hand as we strolled to desks or cubicles. The 9-5 workday was structured and filled with meetings in busy boardrooms, desktop lunches and the 4:30 countdown to the end of day. Most of us had time to decompress from the hustle and bustle of those 8 hours before rejoining family at home. When the shutdown happened many workplaces shifted to remote options with new challenges ahead. How can we be productive while working at home? How do teams, especially creative focused ones, share ideas and collaborate while being removed from one another? 

We asked our team to reflect on the things that have impacted them the most, and to tell us about the pros and cons of being a remote creative team. Keep reading to learn how our Ducks maintain productivity while protecting personal time in the age of “Work from Home” culture. 

How has the pandemic affected your work life?

“I no longer wear real pants, which I don't think is a bad thing…”

-Hannah C. (Art Director)

In an office, there might be a radio or overhead playlists piped in through a speaker. A community water cooler or coffee station could be a place to share ideas and make weekend plans. You have a set lunch break and maybe even short 15 minute breathers in between those longer stretches of work time. Our team now navigates Zoom meetings, Google Meets, Slack notifications and Asana task assignments (sometimes simultaneously) interrupting our flows.

Organized full team meetings and break out groups help us check in on each other both creatively and personally. We manage to keep things fun through discussions on platforms like Discord and bi-weekly game nights. Working remotely has given us the freedom to figure out a productive schedule and environment that works for each individual person. A good rule of thumb is that as long as you’re holding yourself responsible for your work and your team members aren’t begging you to finish tasks – you’re in a good position to make the most of your flexible schedule.

“In the 'before times', there was a clear start and end to work due to my commute. Now work can easily extend beyond traditional hours, which is both a pro and con…I unlock rewards for finishing specific tasks. Payroll is done! You get to blast Eminem now! You reviewed and filed all of this week's contractor invoices, you have earned 3 gummy bears! It's insane.”

-Nina (Operations Manager)

A lot of our team agreed that finding a good work/life balance while working at home has been challenging, but finding that sweet spot and keeping boundaries between when you work and when you’re off the clock is imperative. According to a study done by the APA, three in five people admitted to feeling some type of work-related stress and burnout. While some of the team is enjoying the uninterrupted time at home, others find it hard to stay motivated or inspired working within the same 4 walls every day. To combat that feeling of stagnation, some of our team members utilize their freedom of movement to work from any and everywhere in their home offices. 

What is your WFH process to maintain productivity?

I'm thankful that our flexible WFH policy allows me to maximize the hours of the day that my mind is the strongest. I tend to take care of pressing things first thing in the morning while I'm feeling sharp.

-Gina (Producer)

Spending the end of each work day mapping out the entirety of the day that follows – wake-up to bedtime, with realistic time blocks chunked out for what I need/want to accomplish on a day-to-day basis. I spend less time wondering "what do I do next" and more time being able to just do.

-Conner (Animator)

Something that D&D has tried to really hone in on is saving space for creativity and giving our team enough time to stay in their own creative productivity. Even though we’re not in a shared workspace or office anymore, there are still constant distractions just being home. Between pets, cell phones, slack channels, Netflix begging you to binge another season of The Great British Bake-Off (I think that last one might just be me), it can be hard to stay focused. Some folks have made daily To-Do lists and color coded calendars, others lean on devoted “Deep Work” hours to push through a majority of work. A few utilize tactics like The Pomodoro Technique to avoid getting overwhelmed by everything all at once.

No matter how you set up your home office, there will always be challenges to working remotely. Wifi goes out, your dog barks through a really important client call, or even just feeling uninspired. What we think is awesome about this new way of working, is that everyone understands and accepts that this is the new normal. We’ve all become more aware of every day life being a huge factor in our working life and we have found new ways to make the most of our time. Life is so different than just a few years ago and instead of fighting against it, embrace the challenges and benefits of the ‘Work From Home’ movement. Even more so: save space for creativity to flourish and your team will thank you.

We encourage all teams to embrace the change and see how new approaches to the work day can impact and even improve life working as a remote team.