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Navigating Now & Beyond: Considerations for returning to an office environment (nDreams)

by nDreams

We are now well in to the fifth month of having the whole of nDreams transition from working in an office to working from home – and what was at first very strange and, for many of us, very scary, has over this time become the new norm.

But as the country begins to think about returning to (a version) of the old norm, we have started to consider how and when we welcome our team members back. Our team consists of just over 100 people and whilst government guidance has been provided for many areas on returning to the workplace, we have taken responsibility ourselves for many others areas to ensure anyone and everyone who does return feels safe to do so. Below are some of the key points we’ve considered in throughout our planning for the return of our nDreams family.

Firstly, what is the right approach? We are not sure there is one rule for all, whether that be from company to company, or individual to individual. The health and well-being of the team will always to be our number one priority and throughout lockdown we’ve continued to speak to our staff via vido calls and have sent out a number of surveys to gauge sentiment about returning to the office. We have followed government guidance from the beginning and will conitinue to do so, ensuring we asses the needs of our business on a regular basis. Throughout this process we have been clear that there will be no pressure on anyone to return until they feel comfortable in doing so. (And we’ve proven we can make it – and release a #1 game in Phantom: Covert Ops in the process – so why rush?)

Our immediate focus throughout this has been to open the office space to people who need it for their mental well-being and for those who are struggling physically with space or with poor internet access. This process has already begun for a handful of people who are now back at their old desks. We are also planning to slowly open up the office for socially distanced pre-authorised team meetings or one-to-one staff/manager meetings in the near future.

With this in mind there have been some obvious changes we’ve made to ensure that those who have returned, or will return, feel safe to do so. These include:

  • Providing non-contact hand sanitiser on the walls by all entrances and exits to the office, and in all meeting rooms.
  • Clearly defined hours the office is open. To which, the office must be empty by 18:30 to ensure our cleaning company can safely enter our premises.
  • Minimizing the cleaner’s contact with individual workspace by removing bins under desks.
  • Marking designated pathway on all walkways and corridors.
  • Reducing the maximum number of people allowed in each meeting room and providing markings on the floor for social distancing
  • Asking for no personal post to be delivered to the office.
  • Visitors won’t be permitted unless approved by our COVID team
  • Allowing one person in the kitchen at a time and all returning staff will be given a personal cup/plate/glass/cutlery that they are responsible and will keep at their desks.
  • Keeping the dishwasher/microwave/toaster/coffee machine out of use for now and individual sachets tea/coffee/sugar/milk will be available in the kitchen areas.
  • Only one person is permitted to use a toilet block at a time and hand sanitiser has been placed by exit of the toilets.
  • Sadly, our shared games area and tuck shop are out of use until further notice…

As a developer of games for VR, we also have additional requirements when it comes to the health and safety of our staff:

  • No VR headsets to be shared (necessitating in the purchase of new headsets).
  • Team members will need to wipe down their own equipment daily with antibacterial wipes.
  • If someone’s computer needs to be shared for diagnostic or testing purposes gloves must be worn, social distancing to be maintained at all times and equipment must be wiped clean with antibacterial wipes before being returned.

In addition to the guidance we’re providing our teams, the landlords of the building we are located in are ensuring a number of steps are taken to mitigate the spread of the virus. These include:

  • Lifts are to be used by only one person at a time.
  • Stairs will become one way, one set of stairs for going up, one for coming down.
  • Hand sanitiser is available in reception.
  • Hygiene hook keyrings have been provided for pulling open doors and pushing buttons in lifts.

Whilst we still have a very small number of people back in the office, and are planning on slowly allowing more meetings, there is a consideration of when to allow all staff back given the social distancing needed in the workplace. Ensuring that we have 2m of space between all staff wouldn’t allow us to welcome back everyone straight away (our office isn’t big enough). But do we need to? We’ve found that some staff have relished working from home and, across the team, productivity hasn’t dropped. So, again, there is no need to rush this.

Our Facilities Manager receives daily emails from https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus – there is is link at the bottom of the page to sign up, you can choose how often to get updates and they highlight the sections of changes so you don’t have to keep reading the same information. But ultimately it’s about doing what you think is right for you, your team and your company. This is new for everyone and there is no definitive right answer.

About nDreams

nDreams is an award-winning virtual reality developer and publisher, creating some of most successful and memorable games for leading VR platforms and arcades over the last few years. With our deep heritage in video game development, we are leading the way in building ground-breaking interactive and immersive VR content and now boast one of the most experienced studios in the world. Our uniquely collaborative team of creatives, artist, coders, designers – and our internal publishing team – ensure we remain at the forefront of the technology and understanding our audience and market needs.



Navigating Now and Beyond

This is part of our Navigating Now and Beyond in partnership with Sports Interactive series - guest articles and guides providing technical and practical advice for games companies to navigate working now and beyond the current Covid-19 crisis. 

Find more articles at our Navigating Now and Beyond hub here.