The studio hasn’t been as efficient. Each crew for the studio’s seven shows in curreny production is working at a different capacity. Some are producing animation at 100% capacity, while others have suffered big drops and are producing 30% from home what they would have normally produced in-house. Overall, the studio is “roughly 75% capacity.” Eland says that, “Getting everybody out the door is one thing, but then getting everybody working efficiently was something else.”
Key problems the studio has faced: Eland cites a host of issues of work-from-home, chief among them, while senior staff can operate with few problems, younger and newer staff require mentorship and guidance to be able to work effectively. With upwards of 100 people working on a show, Eland explains that, “the level of craftsmanship is constantly being pushed, and isn’t dependent on a few individuals, but rather the combined skill of the larger team,” and thus, if some crew are falling behind, the entire production falls behind.
The end result: The studio is losing money. Eland says that to compensate for work-from-home, the studio either has to extend production schedules or add more crew onto a show, both of which increase the budget. He says the increase in costs is “not a studio-killer” but if work-from-home continues, the studio will lose “significant sums.”
There are other issues as well says Eland, such as the isolation and the lack of communication. “It has surprised me how much information I take in and give out just walking around the studio, having water cooler meetings or quick side conversations,” he told Kidscreen.
Mercury’s experience is not unique. Earlier this month, we reported how Filipino service studio Toon City had suffered a 28% drop in productivity during quarantine. The company’s CEO Juan Miguel del Rosario put some of the blame on the Philippines’s weak infrastructure and the fact that many employees did not have strong internet connections at home.
Bottomline: Eland wants to get as many Mercury staff back into the office as quickly and safely as possible, and he’s ready to transition to work-from-home if future lockdowns become necessary, but he’s not keen on work-from-home as a permanent solution to running his studio.