I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pros and cons of a remote work setup vs an on-site approach. Then today, Torn Banner studios purchased a featured job post for remote work over on our board (link below).
For me, sometimes it’s nice to focus at home without the distraction of meetings or drive-by shoulder taps. Jason Fried’s TED talk comes to mind. Hours on end of deep focused work in my home office can be very therapeutic. On the other hand, I feed off the energy of others, and I don’t always get that from home (maybe there’s some pro tips I’m missing?). Would love to hear y’alls’ perspective and experience with this one.
Is working from home your personal dream? I’d imagine it varies by personality and circumstance.
In my head, the dream would be some kind of split between both. 2/3 the workload at home/remote and the rest coming in whatever studio you’re working for. I have no idea if that would work in terms of productivity or financially, but I could see doing big chunks of work or a large list of tasks done at home and then be in the trenches with the team before a milestone or ship. Sit through all the reviews, playthroughs and meetings in person while you’re there. You could fix bugs or put out any fires when you’re in the same time zone, and a few steps away from the designer or programmer you may need to talk things over with.
I’m right there with you, I love being surrounded by everyone working hard, seeing what everyone else is working on when I get up to stretch my legs. Sometimes though, you just get more done when it’s quiet and no one’s around.
I love the remote/freelance lifestyle but it very much is that - a lifestyle. The actual work time is definitely worse (I live on my own and work from my front room so some days don’t speak to another person, face to face) but the freedom to take a week off to see family, or go to conventions without worrying about holiday budgets is so worth it for me.
The perfect set-up in my mind would be a shared office with a small number of game art freelancers - no pressure to be there and work when you don’t have to be but still all the social interaction and live feedback from being around like minded people.
I am very fortunate in that my company allows me to work from home if I am feeling under the weather, something comes up with transportation, or the weather is bad for driving. Personally, I try to do it as infrequently as possible because I actually like the feeling of being at a company getting work done, but that is probably because I am fresh out of college, and it feels nice to be working on professional projects after years of making personal projects in UE4.
That being said, when I was working remotely before graduating, it was really relaxing to just have my own space, stay in my pajamas, and send my work to my boss intermittently to receive feedback. I imagine it would get lonely after awhile though.
I worked remotely from February til end of July. Here is my review:
Pro - You are at home
Pro - You plan your work day.
Pro - You can work full time during the night.
Pro - You only attend meeting that are critical.
Pro - You are there for your spouse and kids if needed.
Con - Your family can distract you (believe me, they will use you when they know you are there for them)
Con - Most of the time VFX is critical to other areas of production which requires a lot of discussion with other teams - can be pain in the a**
Con - I find myself being more productive If I go to work and focus only on that instead of working from home.
Con - You are one-man team - no other VFX artists or people from your team are there to can help you problem solve when needed. Or just have a quick chat with your colleagues as a short break.
Con - Friends and Family can always show up your door knowing you are at home. POOFFF!!! few hours + focus.
The company and team I work for supports working from home if its really need to be there.
I think it depends on the situation you are in, and also on what kind of project are you. I my case I actually worked more hours while at home because of all the distractions.
Really nice that you composed a pro’s and con’s list!
It would be cool if more people could do that based on their own experience!
If you would have had access to a different building (like a small house on in your back yard) with a different computer than your personal - would that have changed things? Not sitting in your living room or inside the same house as everyone else and actually “going to work” even if it’s just outside your house.
Maybe it would be easier to get other routines than if you’re hunkering down next to your personal computer?
I haven’t tried freelance work myself but I’d love to try it at some point.
What a great thread, thought I would throw my hat in the ring here.
Pros : Your work hours a pretty flexible as long as you get your work done
Pros : You get to work on something different fairly regularly or depending on your client base you could be jumping between things regularly in style and execution
Pros : Creature comforts of your location
Pros : You can pick where you want to live
Pros : Less meetings, less red tape, your time is expensive and valuable so people don’t waste it.
Cons : Isolated, from people in production, peer feedback on a whim
Cons : You have to chase your next client before the previous one is out. Be on top of your own bookings
Cons : General Admin / knowing tax laws for your country and how they affect you.
Cons: If you take a client that is in a very different timezone and you have to be awake for a stand up or meeting you might be up in the middle of the night, then able to go back to sleep.
Things to keep in mind perhaps, things I have found you will need to know.
- Knowing how to setup a workspace ie: p4 and know how to do this for multiple projects on different servers.
- Setting up security for your computer
- Software Licenses and hardware (particularly hard drives fill up quickly)
- Knowing how your tax laws work for your country, how to declare things, offset your tax, etc
I used to work remotely alot when i was a 3D modeller. It was really simple: i just got some concept art or a text explanaition of what was needed, and the quality of my job was measured by how close it is to the original concept. I frequently collected a bunch of these tasks and then did them all at once (which was faster, since i could decide what to reuse for several objects and generally optimize my workflow). I literally had a case when i did a month worth of work in 3 days, with the other 27 days free for my own stuff.
But things changed when i got into VFX. I rarely got any CA, and often had to iterarte many times until my work was accepted. I tried doing it like i did 3D modelling at first, but it failed: i had to do the first iteration as soon as i got the tasks, in order to get feedback and iterate further as fast as possible. Also, to get feedback fast, i had to work at generally the same time when the guys in the office did, to synchronize. So, i had to work on a schedule and communicate with other members of the team often to be effective, and at this point, working remotely only makes it harder.
So, now i’m in the office. I don’t like it here, but my productivity did get better, since i had more of a direct contact with the team.
I believe it is possible to work remotely and be as effective as in the office, but there need to be some special processes set-up in the studio to do so. Low quality communication has to be taken into account.
If it’s not - it is likely that you’ll be less productive with VFX working remotely that in an office.
I work freelance and I don’t like NOT to be at the team.
- VFX is strongly connected to tech and gameplay so team-communication is important. Doing this in person is sooooo much more efficient than via chat/trello/etc.
- You never now if the other person notices your chat message. They might answer immeditealy or in 15 minutes when they come back from a meeting. In the office you would just see if the person is there.
- I prefer to sit down right against other people and tackle problems together - that’s most fun and energizing.
Being in the studio you see cool stuff happening on all the screens just while walking the office. That’s completely missing as off-site-worker and detaches you from all the cool progress the team does - wich means you don’t get all the motivation from seeing that the project is making big steps.
Also data connection is way slower than in the office. What costs some minutes in the office can take a WAY longer time over internet (the studios I know don’t have as much upload as I have download).