Sunday, July 12, 2009

#0013 CG labor issue: Part 2, Location

I recall spending several weeks winnowing through resumes and hiring a talented 3d artist, another few weeks bringing the artist up to speed within our breakneck production pipeline, only to have her suddenly resign because she found a job with a 20 minute commute instead of a 75 minute one.  

Finding good talent at a good rate with good work ethics and attitude challenges CG Supervisors and Producers again and again when production labor needs rise.  A key factor in this equation, often ignored or disregarded, is the company location. 

There are many reason why a company locates where it does, and for most of us, this above our pay-grade. Even so, you may someday be in a position to make or influence or advise on the decision on where to locate offices.  Today, I want to look at not where a company locates its primary offices, but rather, how it can attract more experienced employees through the use of satellite expansion offices.

Among the problems that may not be unique to the United States workforce is our aging population.  This effects where many workers choose to live in a peculiar way.  Young people are attracted to dense urban environments with singles-oriented activities.  Mature workers, with families, often want a more suburban environment with good schools and quiet neighborhoods.  The upshot, as we see in Los Angeles, is a labor force often composed of young college graduates living fairly close in and experienced workers commuting long hours, which carries a cost. 

Some companies solve this problem by allowing very experienced and valued artists to telecommute.  However, for large companies, the pace of collaboration can make this difficult.  The company is located where it is to be close to clients, the industry hub, the urban vibe, or whatever; artists are needed at this location to get the job done.

The thinking currently is to have a core group of talent local, who can design effects and collaborate more closely with VFX supervisors and directors, and to outsource overseas for massive labor projects.  This rational makes sense, but it depends on maintaining local production capacity and attracting a maturing workforce.  

In Part 3 An alternative to local expansion or outsourcing

Perhaps you have a thought on this?  Please add your comment on this.
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