Remote Work in Animation: The Blurred Line Between Work and Life

In the past year, animation has emerged as a boon for the entertainment industry, some live-action productions going so far as to complete their seasons with animated episodes, like NBC’s The Blacklist. HBO Max recently announced three new adult animated shows to be produced for the platform and is expanding their partnership with Cartoon Network to create more content. Netflix is committing to releasing six animated films a year in an effort to compete with other studios. Film and television demand more animation, and I am all for it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace immensely, and even a year later, many traditionally in-person industries are still using remote frameworks to abide by local guidelines. One thing that the pandemic has proven in the past year is that office workspaces are not a necessity, but rather a matter of convenience, often easing communication. But, for many industries, remote work has shown itself to be just as, if not more, productive. Amidst the shortage of live-action productions, animation has shown itself to be one such industry.

There are definitely positive consequences to remote work, including heightened flexibility and the ability to work outside of a specific mile radius. However, there are also drawbacks that I think susceptible artists could find their way falling into, especially when it comes to separating work and life. 

Within the animation industry, there are many accounts of overworked young artists with a desire to prove themselves and meet their deadlines, who sacrifice their time and health to do so. I think with the increase in remote work, for some the line separating work and leisure may become blurred because the physical barriers of a studio separated from the home are no longer present. The animation industry is also rife with accounts of unpaid overtime, less than ideal sleep schedules, and a lack of work-life balance for entry-level artists. However, with remote work, there is even less of a separation of work and life.

While remote animation may open up doors for many artists and can be a more flexible, and in some cases safer way to work, I think artists must stay extra vigilant in discerning their work patterns and habits, so as not to blur the lines between work and leisure. There needs to be more emphasis placed on taking care of oneself in approaching work, but for studios who care only for bottom lines, junior artists must be attentive ones, especially if the push for remote work continues.

8 Replies to “Remote Work in Animation: The Blurred Line Between Work and Life”

  1. It’s pretty cool that companies have been developing content that ranges from original material, ip, and stories from books during the pandemic, but I do think that there are some advantages and disadvantages. I watched Close Enough over spring break and it was awesome and left me wanting more, but I worry that wanting or pushing for more will cause these companies to stumble. One studio developing six films sounds like a lot, but I think it would provide more jobs for people who want to get into animation. However, my question is how do you maintain the stability of multiple productions every year when problems can occur and demands for content increases? It sucks that in animation there’s a history of working long hours and lack of good payment even for overtime. It’s not wise for someone to risk the health for a project, especially during a pandemic. I remember in the behind the scenes for Soul, it was great for them that personal life merged with their work-life since it formed a deeper connection with the staff. That can happen, but directly communicating with other staff seems easier in person and being in the same place for so long seems stressful. I think working in a studio would be better for this and even allows for personal life to not over intervene, but the opposite happens while working in animation as well. There are advantages and disadvantages to working remotely and in-studio, but I think remote working will still have an impact and influence on the animation industry after the pandemic.

  2. Honestly, I totally agree. I think that there are a tremendous amount of people who work better from home (I’m actually not one of them. Sad. Oh well.) and the fact that the office space is a matter of convenience is definitely fact. Working from home is a wonderful thing and the option should totally become the norm. Great article.

  3. I agree with what you said about both the advantages and drawbacks of working for an animation industry. Animation in the past year and in this current year does open the door for new artists to share stories within their space, but the balance between work and life can often be overlooked or forgotten. Personally, I consider myself to a more productive worker at home just because I have all of the necessities within my space. But I can understand the overall impact of remote learning in animation.

  4. This is totally true. In general working from home for a lot of industries has been a great change. It helps some balance family life and other responsibilities better, however with the advent of the pandemic, a lot of people have been unable to differentiate work time from leisure time. With the animation industry growing exponentially due the pandemic, that can have potentially negative health outcomes for artists. Great insight!

  5. I agree that as horrible as this pandemic has been, the animation industry has been thriving and started a new wave of entertainment. I think that because animation has proven itself to survive a pandemic, the animation industry as a whole will be given the opportunity to expand for broader audiences and tell more unique stories.

  6. I hate the pandemic but I love that animation is thriving. I am really looking forward to watching the content animation studios put out. I do feel bad for the overworked workers though. They could hire more animators to lessen the load on the other ones who are working so hard to make them money. I hope that with all the new animation, more people will watch.

  7. One thing I’ve been hearing about from artists on Twitter these days is how difficult it’s become to separate work and life these days. When everything’s in one place and you aren’t around coworkers/friends, it lowers your morale. People have also talked about being paid the same amount even though studios are saving tons of money by not having anyone in their office spaces. I’ve even seen some debate if the studios should be covering their electricity bills! It’s starting a new conversation about WFH, and I’m excited to see where it heads!

  8. I have to admit I’ve been excited to see the boom within animation and the flexibility that is being allowed, however you bring up such an important point, and I feel like addressing this balance between work and home will become even more important this year. Even as an animation student this has been a struggle, so I can only imagine how a working professional must feel with the pressure to perform more because their work space and home are conjoined, leaving little separation. I do wonder if now it’s easier to take advantage, or if that was easier in an office settling where all eyes were on an employee. The way companies will be handling this will be interesting to observe, and hopefully more strides are made towards ethical workplace practices in animation.

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