Is a remote working revolution coming for creatives?

Koto founder James Greenfield discusses whether coronavirus has changed his mind on remote working, and if it heralds a bigger shift for the way the creative industry operates

Debates around the pros and cons of remote working have been rumbling on for years, but the coronavirus crisis has left agencies and studios with little choice but to embrace it. And while it might be manageable for some people, others in the creative industry are finding that WFH isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For someone like Koto founder and creative director James Greenfield – who’s professed his doubts about remote working in the past – it’s a heavy burden for anyone managing a creative team.

“It’s no doubt it’s harder, and it’s proven that a lot of my thoughts on it are completely true,” he told CR. “Remote work is completely suitable for people doing work that requires minimal engagement with others until it’s completed, or for those doing solitary or single-focused tasks like writers or editors. Koto’s work is very much a team endeavour, and as the leader of that team I spend nine to 10 hours a day Zooming into each of the teams I run, one by one. The personal toll for me is exhausting.”

While people seem to have adapted to communicating digitally, Greenfield believes there are certain IRL interactions that just can’t be replicated. Something as simple as picking up a pen and drawing on a whiteboard is hard to recreate online, even with the help of a digital whiteboard tool or app. A quick discussion about a piece of work comes with extra baggage because, as Greenfield says, people have to consider what they’re writing more carefully, to avoid miscommunication.