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The Impact of Remote Working on Content Creation

03/07/2021

The Impact of Remote Working on Content Creation

Tim Burton July 2, 2021

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Over the past year, content creators, along with everyone else, have had to quickly adapt to remote workflows. Although initially a challenge, this has been a mostly successful transition and, among other benefits, has brought with it the agility and flexibility to rethink how office spaces are used. As post-production teams adapt to remote workflows, what does the long-term future of content development look like and how will these changes impact the creative process?

The Shift to Spin-up / Spin-down

Over the past year, the emphasis has very much been on making it work. The shift to working from home has led to content creators finding new ways to edit and collaborate. In the world of post-production, that means access to lots of tools and often vast volumes of content. Whereas in other professions switching to remote work could mean simply taking a laptop home, that is not an option for most editors. High-res video sizes alone would be enough to crash most standard laptops.

This is why, for the most part, the approach has been to give teams remote access to their usual workspace and applications, with spin-up, spin-down infrastructure. This allows users to easily access what they need, without overloading their remote workstation. The shift happened quickly, but over the past few months, we have seen many organizations refining those processes, as they continue to adapt to remote workflows. There have been many instances of this working well, for example the HPA ran a demonstration during the HPA Tech Retreat whereby six movies were created, edited, and distributed totally remotely in the cloud.

Is Remote Here to Stay?

Even before the pandemic, some broadcasters and post houses were already setting up systems to enable some amount of remote content creation. Mainly this was influenced by the need to provide access to freelancers, but in some cases also to give more flexibility to permanent staff. No-one imagined a world where content creation would become a 100% remote process. However, the shift to remote content creation forced by the pandemic has led to two major revelations for the industry. The first is that technology is far enough along to make that process really quite seamless. The second is that remote content creation comes with a whole host of other, perhaps unexpected advantages.

A remote workforce means that organizations will no longer need to set aside significant floor space to accommodate edit workstations. This will result in a huge cost saving, especially for those companies based in expensive areas. It also means that if the workforce is based remotely, the main hub can be wherever you want it to be. Now that many staff are looking to move away from urban centers, offices and post facilities can be relocated outside major cities too. Remote content creation also opens up new possibilities of using global resources in different time zones, without needing a physical base. This potentially offers organizations a 24-hour post-

production operation with teams working across different continents.

The Impact on Creativity

Of course, for content creation to be successful, there needs to be a high level of creativity. There have been a number of conflicting opinions as to the impact of remote workflows on creativity. On the one hand, it is often cited that creativity needs people to sit together and bounce ideas around. An editor and a production manager discussing content in front of an edit station, could come up with something that the editor might not have considered alone. That dynamic is very challenging to replicate in a remote environment, even with a slew of online tools available that are making staying in touch even more accessible.

That said, working from home gives broadcasting professionals the space to explore new ideas and work with less of a fixed schedule. Creativity is often best served when you can take a break and do something totally different, then return with fresh eyes. Remote working delivers that flexibility in a way that is not always possible in a normal office environment. Back in 2012, a study in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization found that remote working actually increases creativity, while at the same time making people less productive when undertaking more

routine tasks. While the study itself didn't cite the reasons, there has been a lot of conjecture over the past few months around why that could be the case. The consensus seems to be, that working with less of a fixed structure is better for creativity.

The Future of Content Creation

The events of the last year have shown that remote content creation is not only possible, but that often, productivity increases, and the quality of the content remains high throughout. It also brings a wealth of advantages, including a reduced carbon footprint and access global resources. A recent survey by Korn Ferry suggests that 64% of people feel more productive at home and only 30% believe they will go back to working from the office. That said, as the months have rolled on, there has been a growing feeling from many that they are missing the normality of being surrounded by colleagues.

When it comes to creativity, both remote working and office working have reported advantages for content output, so surely the best setup is a hybrid approach. I don't believe we will see a full return to the office for editing workflows, but I believe that teams will benefit from having the flexibility to spend some time working remotely and other times collaborating in person. Spin-up, spin-down infrastructure and remote workstations will support these new hybrid ways of working. Next-gen technology can provide a framework for post-production teams to tailor the creative process to their own
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