With COVID-19 still in our midst and incredible talent now being accessible anywhere on earth, more than ever game studios are being forced to embrace remote work.
For those thinking about/still in the process of making the remote work transition, we've gathered a few key insights from our studio partners to keep in mind when incorporating remote work into your studio’s culture.
Using the Right Remote Tools
Equipping your team with the right combination of software and hardware can make a huge difference in crafting a productive remote work environment for your team.
A few pieces of cross-platform software our studio partners recommend to keep your studio remote-streamlined:
- Asynchronous Communication: Finding the right work chat tool that scales up with your studio can be a process of trial and error, but is well worth the effort. A few apps our client partners use for internal comms include Slack, Discord, and Telegram.
- Task Management: Studio coordination of tasks, especially when working across different time zones, can be difficult without using a solid tool to create transparency around what's being worked on by whom.
Tools our studio partners use heavily for this include Trello, Asana, ClickUp, and Github Issues.
[Looking to manage vetted, remote games projects? Register at Rupie]
- Synchronous Communication: In light of COVID-19, a new wave of real-time video and audio apps have seen a blowout adoption. While these are relatively new utilities to the newly remote-initiated, we have found them to be a necessity for the remote studios in our network.
A few super-useful apps we've seen being used to create more real-time context for remote team members include Screen.so for seamless screen-sharing, Zoom/Google Hangouts for group video chats, Pragli for remote omnipresence, and Tandem for seamless entering/exiting of different remote "offices" within.
- Document Collaboration: Sometimes getting something out the door requires team members to get on the same page (literally). A few document collaboration environments we've seen work well for many studios include G Suite for written documents and spreadsheets, Dropbox for visual assets, Vimeo for video assets, and Notion for internal documentation and general content indexing.
Equally important to your team's remote productivity is hardware. If your studio has the budget, perhaps look into setting aside resources to help each team member invest in their home setup; starting with the right desk, chair, personal computer, internet connection + router, et al.
All it takes is one teammate’s faulty connection or slow machine to bring an entire group call to a screeching halt.
Being Mindful of Mental Health
The transition to remote work can (and will) be a challenge for some. Here are a few things you can do as a studio head or hiring manager to make this transition a bit easier for your team:
- Know your presence hierarchy: When it comes to “feeling” like you’re with your team, presence can vary from person to person. Thankfully, we at Rupie have ample anecdotal evidence from our network of remote workers showing that a presence hierarchy exists within each team. Here is ours, ranked from most present to least present:
Video >> Audio >> Synchronous text >> Asynchronous text
Create your own presence hierarchy and rank your preferred modes of communication to modulate the presence level for your remote team, ensuring no member feels like they’re not being seen.
- Institute team office hours + happy hours: Whether in the form of a weekly team meeting or a more casual digital venue for remote team members to go in and out of, “rooms” for team mingling and open sharing of ideas, questions, or concerns can help simulate the “lunchroom” feel of an in-person office environment.
Not only does this facilitate casual conversations between team members, but it also ensures a safe space for company-related input to organically surface.
- Watch for remote burnout (it exists!): While in-office posturing becomes less of an issue in a remote work setting, the lack of a physical office can result in work without clear boundaries. Self-imposed overwork sometimes can arise, so keep an eye out for signs of fatigue. If and when you see it, do not hesitate to encourage team members to take breaks or set communication boundaries during certain times of the day.
Using Remote to Attract Talent
Remote work does pose some very clear challenges, but there is a platinum lining: being able to hire the world’s best talent.
When your hiring pool expands from “talent in our area” to “talent from every inch of the globe,” the potential to build a truly world-class team skyrockets. To highlight this, here are a few key benefits:
- Truly hire from all over: As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc globally and immigration policies change on a weekly basis, it really pays to consider remote work from a streamlined operational standpoint. Being able to find, vet, and hire truly incredible team members without worrying about issuing visas, that may or may not remain valid due to unpredictable immigration policy, can be a huge studio advantage.
- Maximize thought diversity: Crucial to a game studio’s creativity is the diversity of thought within a core team. Leaning into bringing people of different backgrounds into your studio can have multiplicative effects on the inventiveness of your team’s output.
In an increasingly diverse and competitive game development landscape, we believe how creative a studio can be (especially when it comes to game mechanics) is what will set the “greats” apart from the rest.
- Lean into the flexibility of remote work: Work-life balance remains a touchy subject in game development, as “crunch” still plagues studios all over.
While crunch won’t ever fully disappear, leveraging your company’s remote work policy to create more day-to-day balance with team member's home life can be a huge selling point, especially when talking to the industry’s top talent.
[Looking to hire vetted, remote games talent? Check out Rupie Recruiter]
This said, as important as flexibility is setting clear performance expectations. With great flexibility comes great responsibility.
Good luck! ❣️