In April we opened the doors to our brand new studio space, and welcomed back the team after what felt like an eternity apart. Since then, we’ve operated a hybrid studio, combining working from home with working from the studio. Now a few months on, we surveyed the team to see how they are finding the hybrid way of working. With more studios considering how they will navigate this transition, we thought we’d share what we have learnt so far.
Adapting to a new way of working
After a brief spell back in the studio last summer, we were suddenly thrust into working from home during the second lockdown last year. Whilst this proved challenging there were lots of positives that came from this. Our team cite the ability to enjoy home cooked lunches, have full control over their set up (including what music they listen to, room temperature, where they sit, etc), fit in mundane household chores, and exercise on a lunch break, all as advantages. Whilst personal benefits are all well and good, it’s important to note that some team members found they were more productive from home; particularly during the stages of a project that involved ‘head down’ time. Of course there are bigger implications too; whilst staff can enjoy zero commute time and cost, the benefit of us reducing our environmental footprint has a much wider potential.
On the flip side, it was clear that the team really missed the real life interactions with each other. We truly believe together is better; our strength is in our collective, and this simply couldn’t be replicated virtually. The team found that what would be a 5 minute informal chat in real life, could become an overly complicated Slack thread. Problem-solving is much harder when you can’t print stuff out to pin up and chat about. It was also challenging for newer team members to form bonds and get a sense of studio culture remotely.
Finding the balance between flexibility and collaboration
As restrictions began to ease, we seized the opportunity to open our brand new studio space in Southville, Bristol. Our aim was to strike a balance between allowing people to retain the flexibility they’ve enjoyed whilst working from home, and also allowing the face-to-face interactions that strengthens relationships and maximises collaborative work. The hybrid studio does just this.
We knew it was important that the studio was accessible to everyone, every day of the week. One of the drawbacks of working from home is that it depends very much on the individual’s set up. Not all of us have access to high-spec technology or a home office. A lot of people associate the hybrid studio with chaotic working patterns, but it doesn’t have to be. Planning ahead is helpful, and set days in the studio / at home allows for a smoother transition between the two work spaces. We simply made Wednesdays the official ‘WFH’ day, with every other day being a studio day unless otherwise requested.
Ensuring a smooth transition
“We wanted to make our studio environment feel like a second home, to help ease the transition. After almost 18 months of disruption to our normal way of working, we couldn’t ignore the shift our team had experienced. We made sure we listened to them and reacted to what they said.. As a result, we now have a flexible way of working that centres around our new studio as well as our culture.” – Jason Smith, Co-Founder & Managing Director.
The transition to a hybrid studio after endless months of working from home had the potential to be tricky. However, everyone has really enjoyed having the freedom to enjoy the best of both worlds. Everyone works differently; whilst some thrive in a bustling studio, others prefer to work in isolation with fewer distractions. And the team really rate that they are being offered the choice: “It’s reassuring that there is that level of trust and respect”, says one team member. The hybrid studio caters for everyone. It’s all about adapting the way we work to suit individual preferences, in a way that enables them to do the best work they can.
Agility in the face of new challenges
As a studio, we’ll continue to review how we work over the coming months. Our ability to adapt and rise to new challenges is what defines us. We’re currently trialling ‘Summer Hours’; a new approach that gives everyone Fridays off over summer. This is new ground for all of us; so let’s be open about what’s going well, and what’s not. How are you working? We’d love to hear from you.