With most of the world on lockdown to delay the spread of Covid-19 and protect vulnerable people, most companies have been forced change the way they work, to allow business as usual.
We spoke with some of our clients in Games and Tech around the world to find out how they are tackling the situation to bring you some helpful advice and tips, whether you’re a job seeker or business owner at this tricky time.
The current situation
Whilst this is changing daily, when we spoke with clients earlier in mid-March, the majority were already taking an enforced work from home approach. Whether imposed by their government, or implemented by business owners, for most companies (Skillsearch included) it’s a popular choice to reduce the risk of spreading the illness among employees and their families, plus helping to delay the spread nationally through social isolation.
Other studios in less effected areas have been taking a staggered approach, Black Forest Games, based in Germany, have sent half of their office home, allowing them to increase the space between those still going into work - promoting social distancing.
A similar strategy had been taken by one of our Enterprise Systems clients, splitting their contractors into a ‘red’ and ‘blue’ team. One week the blue team will work in the office and the red team from home, and in the next week this is reversed. This ensures that if there is illness within one team, the other team shouldn’t be affected – keeping disruption to a minimum and ensuring the office is manned constantly.
Keywords Studios, who own several game studios (Studio Gobo, Electric Square, The Trailer Farm etc.) are offering flexible resources to Studios in worst affected areas. Their business set-up means they have teams all over the world who can offer short-term, flexible studio resources at a time when studios may be struggling with several people off sick or caring for families. Although, like many other studios, they are taking measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus within their teams, including
- Shifted working patterns
- Reducing business travel
- Encouraging travelling out of peak times where possible
- Increased office hygiene and cleaning
And of course, a big blow to many industries is the banning of large public gatherings, meaning many events will not be going ahead as planned, which has implications for businesses outside of just the social element. Those working in Games and Interactive will know this is normally a busy time for events and conferences with most of the biggest already been cancelled or postponed.
We’re keeping an up to date blog of all the latest event info, which also covers what affected studios can do to recuperate costs lost.
UPDATE 24.03.2020: Almost all companies we work with are now working from home indefinitely depending on their location.
So far, remote working seems to be going well for all who we’ve spoken with. In the case of our Enterprise Systems client, the introduction of the red and blue teams has actually increased productivity thanks to the competition between the two teams in attempts to outdo each other’s daily output!
Georgia from PubG in Amsterdam also believes studies have shown that productivity increase with people working at home.
As a company PubG are well versed in working remotely and most people there are already set up to do so, using work laptops and Slack to manage daily tasks and projects. It’s only the dev team who have had to make special trips back to the office take their equipment home in order to carry on as normal.
However she goes on to say, as PubG have been forced to work remotely by the Dutch government, she worries that the reality of everybody working from separate locations means that communication inevitably slows down – as you can’t simply turn to your colleague for a conversation, however she’s are hopeful that “not being in the office won’t affect the daily output too much”.
The same goes for Bossa Studios, who made the decision to start remote working from the 16th of March, which they will be reviewing on a weekly basis. Alice from Bossa told us they are “not letting this affect day to day running, everyone is flexible and adapting well to the working remotely”.
She goes on to say that they’re willing to do whatever it takes for their teams to feel comfortable and well set up for remote working. This means they’ve had some equipment couriered to employees houses to give them the best opportunity to work well from home, which seems to be an approach that several companies are now taking on, especially for new employees during their remote onboarding. This is encouraging news that those in the process of beginning new jobs will be supported as much as possible with the delivery of equipment to their homes.
For many, the biggest concern is working with children at home, as Chris Brownridge talks about on LinkedIn.
Many schools and nurseries are providing links to resources and online sites that have ideas, as it’s generally considered that we’ll all just have to accept that the normal 9-5 won’t be the standard during this time, whilst people do what they can to work around their responsibilities (and distractions) at home.
If you're working from home with kids in tow, take a look at our survival guide: How to Work from Home with Kids and Stay Sane!
Job Hunting During Lockdown
Being a job seeker at this time may seem more stressful than normal, however the resounding message is a positive one!
Of all the studios and clients, we spoke to, none of them plans to halt their recruitment process at this time. Black Forest Games have told us they “don’t want to miss any good people!” and PubG are “committed to keeping the recruitment process running smoothly”.
Bossa is continuing to advertise roles and conduct interviews through Google Hangouts. They are doing their best to ensure candidates and agencies still get the best experience through them possible.
For many studios the main part of their process is remote anyway, involving telephone screenings, Skype interviews and online tests/tasks, with only the final step being a visit at the studio and local area.
For most studios, though this is a key part of the interview process and allows both studio and candidate get to know each other in person and gives candidates a chance to check out the potential work environment and the region where they may well live is all goes well.
Black Forest Games have said in special cases they are willing to replace this last step with an extensive Skype interview and will set up a screen sharing solution so that they still can sit together with candidates working on some real-live tasks. But in other cases, they’re postponing the visits, hoping that travel restrictions will not last too long.
Other studios are looking at doing virtual tours of the office and locations to give candidates as much of a feel for them as possible, as well as the chance to meet with multiple team members for chats online.
So, should you keep job hunting at this time? Yes! Just be aware that for everyone to keep safe, things may move a bit more slowly than usual, and you may need to get used to Skype interviews and conference calls.
PubG encourages that...
With the recent update of several countries closing their borders, there are likely to be delays within the process. However, it's important to remain focused on the positives and the fact that studios are still nevertheless on the hunt for talented new recruits!
Tips for Online Interviews
So, as we’ve heard most companies are committed to keeping businesses operating and projects running on time, that means recruitment is still a key focus for many although face to face contact will be reduced in live with individual governments travel and movement advice.
For PubG, the recruitment process has always been purely online, involving a series of phone and video interviews. This means that their recruitment process can go on as normal, except for some potential anticipated delays in feedback.
Similarly, at Sumo Digital, all first and second stage interviews will be conducted through video call. The exception is that it is essential for them to now gain confirmation from candidates that they haven’t been exposed to anyone who has visited any at-risk countries in the last two weeks. They are currently still offering a final onsite interview, at their discretion – although this may change if the UK government enforces isolation.
So, with telephone and video interviews likely to be the main form of recruitment currently, it’s important to know how to do well in them – for both candidates and interviewers.
Bossa Studios offers the advice of dialling in early to check your sound and video quality, which will ensure it is ready for the interview ahead. It’s also important to consider the environment around you. It’s easy to get distracted on a video call so “Make sure you’re set up with limited distractions!”
Black Forest Games advises those who are conducting telephone interviews to:
- Ensure they have a strong technical set up
- “Make a clear introduction of every participant with name and responsibility”, to ensure the interviewee knows who is on the call, and what their role is within the interview.
- Good audio quality is extremely important - especially when non-native speakers are on the call. Don’t accidentally take bad language know-how for technical problems!
PubG suggests that the most important thing in a video interview is for both parties to make thorough notes throughout the call. For HR purposes it’s essential to make sure everything at the interview stage is recorded, in order to
- Allow all parties to refer to conversations later if needed
- Ensure all parties are on the same page and understood all elements discussed on the call
- Allow for accurate follow-up, confirming everything that was discussed on the call
It may seem obvious, but they also state how important it is to come across professionally on a video call
- Think about where you are, what is in the room around you, try to find a professional spot at home, or at lease clear the dirty washing pile from view!
- Dress smartly as if you were attending an interview in person
- Be prepared! Make sure everything works well in advance, test your camera angles have a glass of water handy, make sure you gave plenty of paper and spare pens for taking notes
- Remove distractions – if possible! Put the cat out, have someone there to entertain children and turn the TV off!
Some studios we work with have created comprehensive agendas, for online interviews and trial days. These go above and beyond with everything the candidate will need in one handy email ahead of the day, making things as seamless as possible, when meeting in person just can’t happen e.g.
- Time and duration of each task
- Names of each person (hyperlinked to their LinkedIn so the candidate knows exactly who they are speaking to in advance) leading that item on the agenda
- Link to each call
Just remember, recruitment is really all about good impressions and personality fit. If you’ve got this far, a big part of the final interview stage is really all about making good personal connections with the people you might be working with! And although that is inevitably a bit harder when done virtually rather than in real life, studios like PubG have proven that it is possible, and it can work well!
These are difficult times for many people worldwide, however, for those in the recruitment process (as stated by Black Forest Games) “it’s also an opportunity because you learn about your candidates how they react in a non-standard situation”, this also goes for candidates! “They might learn more about the flexibility and openness of their potential employer than they would in normal times”.
If you have some advice or top tips you’d like to share about working remotely please get in touch, and if you’re thinking about making a move, we are still very much open and working, ready to help you with your job hunt, or recruitment needs.
As always you can find some handy resources on our website…
On the hunt for a new role? Check out our guide to writing the perfect CV for the games industry!
Killing time at home? Now’s a great time to delve into the best new game releases of this year, or even have a read through our 2020 Games and Interactive Salary and Satisfaction survey to see how your role compares to others in your area.
For more Covid-19 tips Ukie has some great advice too "How to prepare a coronavirus policy for your games business" . They are also working with Sheridans to provide a special Ukie Hotline edition, for anyone who needs free legal advice. You can check this out here.
Wishing everyone happy and healthy working from home! Good luck everyone.