Remote work is going to be a feature of our working lives for a while. That means we're all in need of some great advice on how to make it work for you and your games business.
Fortunately, the great and the good of the games industry have come together to offer you (and, quite frankly, us) tips on how to make working from home as easy as possible.
Take it away, folks!
If your computer can't be in a separate room, moving it in and out of the way to give a semblance of 'work mode' is a good way to remember when you are and aren't at work
Making sure you put reminders of when you need to take a break as well, as you won't have the social cues of other people getting up for lunch.
Peace and quiet can be really helpful if you need to concentrate. But for most of us, it’s not a sustainable way to work in the long term. To do your best work, you need to stay connected to your team and to keep a dialogue going. Switch to using video conference apps like Zoom, so you can hold virtual brainstorms or even just quick five-minute catch-ups. It makes all the difference to see a friendly face and bounce around some ideas. In the EA UK&I team, we have been having some lunchtime catch-ups and we have lots of messages on our team WhatsApp Channel too.
At ustwo games we are all currently working from home and missing the buzz of the studio. We've found setting up a virtual lunch and coffee break hangout link can help maintain that human interaction. Employees can call in to share a virtual cuppa, or eat lunch together, and have those kitchen chats; whether it's what they did last night or the latest Netflix show they are watching. It's really important to stay connected, to show each other deep care, and to maintain a routine where possible.
The key is recognizing how you yourself stay energetic about the tasks at hand. The thing with working in an office is that you're surrounded by other people also being productive, and things like cigarette breaks or making a cup of tea become regimented, or at the very least habits. Certain times, certain people, familiarity. Try to mimic this at home if at all possible.
On the one hand, you need to reinforce regular breaks from work, so try simply shouting "LUNCHTIME!" into slack, @-ing everyone (we have literally done this for years). Extend that to tea breaks and the like, you'll quickly see other people adopting the same mini-schedules. This kind of thing helps you bookend your time away from a screen, and so helps you make better use of your time at the desk.
We have a weekly company update where I talk about what the company has done the week before, what we plan to do next week (or even longer period), if there are any major changes or issues we need to deal with and give an honest update about our state. I think this is absolutely invaluable for the team.
Get dressed from the waist up.
... you definitely need to get dressed (both halves of your body!), but you can probably wear comfier clothes than you wear to the office – and take advantage of the fact that you can wear slippers at your desk! Much nicer than pinchy smart shoes.
Getting at least your top half dressed is important, we can agree on that.
Working in PJs feels like a treat, but it honestly just makes it harder to shift into/out of work mode – you’ll find it makes it harder to work AND harder to relax later. Get washed and dressed before work, and you’ll feel way better inthe long run.
PJs are ok, but you have to wear allocated work PJs.
We hope this write-up was at least insightful and hopefully has helped one or two of you in adjusting to remote work, or has given you a new perspective on whether or not you should or should not have designated work pyjamas.
The first few months was very hard - really up until I moved the PC away from the living and bedroom areas. If you can get the space it really is worth cleaning out the shed for a clear septation of home and work life. Otherwise you'll have a constant reminder to keep working, constant guilt over the top of your head.
Also - use the time to move the work area to be closer to nature, where the sun is coming into the room. It's important that we keep our VitD levels up and nature itself can be a great healer.
Get to know other remote-workers on Twitter, Slack or Discord. So many professionals who WFH are active on online platforms, and many are happy to give you feedback, schedule in virtual coffee chats, and give you encouragement when you need it. Don’t be shy! Women in Games (@wigj) has a particularly amazing online community who have brought so much joy & encouragement to our work-day.
Check in on your people and make sure they are okay. And their family is okay. Keep asking. Ask twice then ask again.
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