Office culture changed forever as we know it by the pandemic, leaving many studios in a hybrid or remote working environment.
Many MAKE veterans will tell you - it was spooky when our artsy-fartsy feet were the only boots stomping around the Minneapolis skyways in the summer of 2020; when every lawyer, business person, and barista suddenly vanished from area. Why did we stay?
Let’s start by stating we did have to go remote for a couple of months during the mandated shutdown. We did some great work during those months but we definitely did not like it! We were fortunate enough to have the option of coming back to in-person thanks to the ratio of our employee count and the overall size of our studio. There was plenty of space to keep apart and plenty of procedures to avoid contact.
Studio members worked diligently to keep each other safe. Communal areas like the kitchen stayed empty, masks stayed on, but the ability to keep our team culture in-person meant that collaboration was integral to keep flourishing. This was not one person's decision, but rather this was a studio made decision. Everyone needed to be on the same page for this to work, and for people to feel comfortable.
Having a studio identity is challenging when you have a bunch of artists and producers spread out that communicate with each other infrequently. In-person interactions foster a stronger sense of company culture and camaraderie. It can be easier to establish trust, build relationships, and collaborate spontaneously in an office setting.
“Creative work requires many brains working as one to produce a cohesive voice.” Danny Robashkin, Creative Director. He continues, “That voice comes from bouncing ideas around a room, getting to passionately pitch your take, or opening yourself up to a new point of view. All of which we know can get muddled up in a long message thread or even in a zoom meeting.”
Working on tight deadlines in a very dynamic commercial environment requires constant readjusting and shifting of priorities. In order to react quickly, constant, quality communication is necessary. We gain a lot at the studio from immediate availability of all artists, as well as more non tangible aspects like ad hoc conversations and the inspiration we get from the chance viewing of other peoples' work.
We foresaw that working remotely would negatively impact new talent. One such new hire that came on in the depths of the pandemic was Natalia Poteryakhin, now entering her 2nd year here. She states: “In a weird way, if it wasn’t for my university going fully remote, I wouldn’t have gotten to work part-time at MAKE every single day while also still being a full-time student. Getting to come into a real office and receive the mentorship I needed as a junior storyboard artist- without that, I would never have grown to the director position I have now. More importantly, I would have lost out on the genuine friendship that coworkers have, even with masks on!”
Another new hire that showed remarkable growth in her 2nd year at MAKE is Jordan Powers stating, “Working in-office made it possible for me to get feedback and answers to questions on the fly. It's much easier and faster at times to approach someone and ask about stuff than it is to message them and wait for a reply. It's also nice to take a little break and chat with coworkers about things that are happening in our lives or stuff we're passionate about. Not that you can't do that over Slack or Zoom, but I think that being in person helped me quickly get to know my coworkers a little better.”
The Pandemic was a challenge for everyone, and as a team we decided to take that journey on together. As a result, we’ve never been as close as we are now, and we’re overjoyed to see more and more faces in the Minneapolis skyways.