UPDATING: Animation Companies Encourage Employees to Work Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a wide-spread impact on the animation and visual effects business. We reported on the cancellation or postponement of many of the events and gatherings such as MIPTV, WonderCon, E3, the Licensing Expo, Berkeley’s GLAS Festival and the Stuttgart Animation Festival here. The pandemic has also caused many of the animation and vfx studios to ask their employees to be safe and work remotely instead. Here is an update of what everyone is doing:

DreamWorks Animation. Employees are following parent company NBCUniversal’s overall policies and are encouraged to work from home if possible. Animation president Margie Cohn sent out the following letter to employees:

Dear DreamWorkers,

You recently received a memo from Jeff Shell regarding our company-wide response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. As the situation continues to evolve rapidly, I hope you’re taking recommended precautions for the health and safety of you and your family.

We know that the direction in Jeff’s note regarding work from home is not one size fits all, as it’s easier for some to work remotely than others. At DreamWorks, over the next few days, we will begin a phased roll out to reduce the number of people in our workplace. As Jeff mentioned, those who can work remotely should speak with their manager as soon as possible about a work from home schedule.

On the production front, we have been exploring and testing work from home solutions and show leadership will be sharing unique plans for each production soon. In the meantime, our studio will remain open as many of our production and post-production workflows require access to campus. As you’ve seen, we are continuing to take proactive measures to deep clean and disinfect our work areas.

Some key information to note:

Effective immediately, for the time being, there will be no visitors of any kind permitted at Flower or Central.

All employee events are being canceled or postponed for now.

If you will be working remotely, you are expected to stay in close touch with your team, continue to actively participate in ongoing work, and attend virtual meetings as needed.

Our Technology team has created a helpful remote user guide via Google Drive. For other technology related questions, please call 5-HELP.

While we do not know how long this situation will last, we will revisit our plans at the end of the month in coordination with state and local government as well as our counterparts at NBCU.

Please stay connected with your immediate manager or HR business partner about appropriate next steps. For updates, FAQs and resources about COVID-19, visit NBCUNow.

During these uncertain times, I want you to know how deeply I appreciate your commitment to our beloved studio. While this situation is rapidly evolving, we will continue to share additional information as needed.

  • Nickelodeon Animation employees are being sent home on today (March 13) as a trial. A Nickelodeon spokesperson referred us to a report from Yahoo.com. It noted that Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has told employees that they are testing new procedures to allow them to work from home. “This [test] will allow us to assess our remote access capabilities, ensure everyone has the technology they need to do their jobs remotely, and help us practice how we work together when we’re all out of the office at the same,” Bakish wrote in a memo. He also encouraged any employee that would feel more comfortable working remotely to discuss doing so with their manager
  • Netflix had to close its main office in Los Angeles on Thursday (March 12) after an employee was suspected to have caught the coronavirus from their spouse, per Deadline.com. The studio’s L.A. staffers have been recommended to work from home until further notice.
  • Warner Media (parent company of Warner Bros. Animation) told employees to work from home  in order to practice caution over the spread of the virus. On Friday, John Stankey, president and COO of AT&T and Warner Media’s CEO wrote in a memo, “Beginning Monday, March 16, all WarnerMedia employees around the world who are able to work remotely are encouraged to do so until further notice.” He added that the company’s offices will remain open for employees who need to continue working there, or to pick up their equipment or resources to work remotely. We also got this official statement from Warner Bros.  TV Group (which includes Warner Bros. Animation) today: “With the rapidly changing events related to COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, Warner Bros. Television Group is halting production on some of our 70+ series and pilots currently filming or about to begin.  The health and safety of our employees, casts and crews remains our top priority. During this time, we will continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control as well as local officials and public health professionals in each city where our productions are based.”
  • Bento Box. The prolific Burbank-based studio behind shows such as Bob’s Burgers, Paradise P.D. and the upcoming Central Park, is working on finalizing a plan to allow employees to work from home soon. A company spokesperson told us this contingency plan will be finalized early next week.
  • Titmouse. Studio founders Chris and Shannon Prynoski released the following statement: “As an artist-run studio, we remain flexible and are making accommodations such as working from home. Everyone’s safety and health is the priority. In the midst of this emergency, we continue to evaluate how to best work through the crisis and weather it together.” The L.A.-based animation studio inked an overall deal with Netflix in January and produces shows such as Big Mouth,  Bless the Harts, Tigtone and the upcoming Midnight Gospel. It has studios in New York and Vancouver as well.



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