Remote Production: Just A Fad Or Here To Stay?
The problems we face today are certainly unprecedented, and like most Bay Area companies, we have had to adjust to many changes in our industry because of the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. Social distancing, as important as it is in reducing the rate of infection in our communities, has had an undeniable effect on every aspect of our daily lives. In California, an ever-growing trend soon took dominance after the initial shock of the state-wide lockdowns settled in: remote work. The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that in the Bay Area, “45% of the jobs in the…region are eligible to work remotely, or about 1.79 million jobs.” Tech, business, and professional firms (whose expansive facilities and offices were the first to be shut down by the Pandemic) found the alternative of remote work to be just as efficient as their employees’ in-person performance. While some US Bureau of Statistics reports give the impression that these industries are actually benefiting from remote work, other industries that require in-person attendance — like the entertainment, publishing, and audio/video industries — have been left gouged . As someone attached to the corporate video space, it’s crucial to understand how this trend has impacted the industries of both clients and producers, as well as to anticipate where this trend will go.
As a customer-driven, video production company, our own success became directly tied to the obstacles facing our clients. COVID-19 protocols have greatly complicated everyone’s working capacity, whether it takes the form of difficulties in organizing, communicating, or outright reluctance from clients because of social distancing adherence. No matter how diligent one can be, the desire for in-person crews in the corporate video industry has waned due to fears of cross-infection. With employees left to their own devices while working from home, we saw many companies turn to convenient, in-house alternatives to supplement projects that would otherwise have been taken up by in-person crews. Video conferencing, cell phone toolkits, and webcam softwares have offered some semblance of normalcy for our clients, but as a company dedicated to satisfaction, we saw room to meet their need for quality video in ever-more convenient fashions. With strict adherence to protocols, we still believe that in-person production is the preferred option for making the best video product, however it is clear that there is opportunity for better solutions to the drastic changes facing our clients.
So where does this leave video producers? With demand for in-person production plummeting, and with our clientele’s workforce becoming more detached from the region itself, it’s up to Bay Area producers to raise the bar when it comes to remote production. Corporate video clients shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice quality because of unavoidable restrictions, and savvy producers shouldn’t come up empty because they shoehorn themselves into the “standard” way of doing things. Just as how the big Bay Area industries have transitioned into making their employees and services available remotely, so too is it up to production companies to make their skills available remotely and fully meet the needs of customers. There are many ways to achieve this, but the most crucial component will be their solution’s accessibility to the client. Finding that accessibility in use, distribution, and handling will be the new challenge facing production companies. Whether it be through remote instruction and crewing or a DIY kit on the part of the producers, their remote production solutions will have to prove their return of quality outweighs the convenience of simply setting up a cell phone or laptop webcam. The solutions will have to be just as convenient as those alternatives and leave little room for actual setup on the client’s part. As video technology has advanced and condensed (even in recent years) the resources are certainly there to elevate the quality of remote production that we see now. Most importantly, the need is there. Corporate clients want strong video work, so as the trend toward decentralized work continues, producers need to embrace that trend if they don’t want to be left behind.
Even now, nearly 10 months in, no one can say for certain how long the Pandemic will last. But as big businesses and remote employees take part in the “Bay Area Exodus” we are seeing, it seems certain that some form of remote work will remain in a post-pandemic era. In that same Silicon Valley Business Journal article mentioned previously, the executive director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute said, “Remote work has been critical to sustaining our regional economy through the Covid-19 pandemic, but remote work also could bring significant structural changes to the economy and the way the region plans for the future.” Bay Area video producers have felt those changes, but it’s understandable to see a resistance in accepting remote production believing it will ultimately lead to a transition away from in-person crewing. As a producer living through this pandemic, it’s important to come to terms with the realities of remote work and it’s creeping permanence within many of our client companies. As businesses further decentralize away from the Bay, many in-person production opportunities are simply gone. In-person productions will never completely disappear, but there is a growing desire for remote production that can’t go unfulfilled for long.
- Du Salt, Laurence. “Pandemic Creates ‘Weird Boom Time’ for Some Bay Area Remote Workers.” The Mercury News, 2021, http://www.mercurynews.com/2021/01/10/pandemic-creates-weird-boom-time-for-some-bay-area-remote-workers/
- Fernandez, Ryan. “Bay Area Is Well Suited for Remote Work, but There Are Benefits and Drawbacks to Keeping It Going.” Bizjournal.com, 2020, http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2020/12/22/remote-work-ripple-effect-bay-area-council-study.html