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.