Games Industry Guide to: Commuting and Remote Working

Games Industry Guide to: Commuting and Remote Working

Not many of us are fans of commuting. Whether it’s using overcrowded, overpriced trains or being stuck in traffic, we lose a lot of time to it – time that could be better spent in the office or enjoying home life. The statistics speak for themselves; on average UK workers are predicted to spend 400 days of their life commuting. Yuk!

Commute by location, location, location

According to the data from our 2019 Salary and Satisfaction survey the games industry commute times are high! Canada tops the poll with an average commute to work at 43 minutes, followed closely by the UK at 39 minutes. Those working in Europe have the quickest journey in the industry, their average is just 29 minutes.

Average Commute in Games Industry
This situation could potentially become more problematic in the future as research by the TUC shows that average commute times (both ways) in UK games development regions have all been growing over the past ten years.

/Avg. commute times (both ways) in UK games development regions


Commute Time by Level

It probably won’t come as too much of a surprise that Juniors in the games industry are travelling the furthest with the data showing averages of 50 minutes each way (although in some cases this is much higher). Good news if you’re a Lead, you have the shortest commute across the industry at around 25 minutes.

Games industry commute time - by level (mins)

The story across the UK and Europe show a similar trend with Juniors facing longer commutes than their Seniors. However, in the EU the commute time for those Mid-Level and above the difference in commute time is minimal. 

EU games industry commute time - by level (mins)
Again Juniors in the UK have the worst deal, travelling on average 52 minutes to work each morning... almost two hours a day! In the UK we can also see whilst commute time dips for Mid-Level, Seniors and Leads in the games industry, it peaks again for those in managerial positions. We could potentially pin this down to the high cost of living in UK cities, making an assumption that though in Managerial positions may be moving further out in order to get a foot on the property ladder?!

Considering ditching the commute?

Flexible working and remote working can help take the sting out of commuting for those who feel they’re doing too much of it. Opportunities for flexible working practices such as job sharing and part-time are at healthy levels within the industry.

Our survey shows that the sector is open to flexible working with a global average of 75% while Europe is at 80% and the UK on 73%.

People Remote Working in Games Industry

However, digging deeper into the figures reveals that remote working itself – enabling employees to bypass commuting altogether on occasion – is not part of videogame development’s culture:

Overall, employees remote work only 35% of the time globally and in Europe – while in the UK, this figure stands at 27%.

Time worked remotely by level

Our research also suggests that remote working in UK videogame development is perhaps regarded as a privilege afforded to those higher up the corporate hierarchy – rather than a pragmatic solution to issues such as commuting. 65% of managers are able to work remotely with a quarter doing so. And only 47% of juniors are able to work remotely with over 40% doing so

This suggests there is a greater appetite for remote working among lower-ranking employees – but fewer opportunities to do so in spite of facing more difficulties with accommodation and travel costs than their better-paid managers. Perhaps the UK dev scene should look to Europe for a steer – it strikes a healthier remote working balance with nearly 70% of juniors able to work remotely.

Games industry who have remote working - by level

Weighing up the pros and cons

Worryingly, the amount of time spent travelling to and from work could influence why people begin looking for a new job. Our research shows that employees looking for a new job have an average commute time of 37 hours per week – while those who ‘only’ spend 27 hours a week aren’t. Employers take note!

Avg. commute time of those in the games industry considering a new job

And who can blame long-suffering commuters for wanting to move on? Research shows that excessive commuting causes:

  • An increase in stress and blood pressure
  • A reduction in a healthy work/life balance
  • A fall in sleep levels and time for healthy cooking
  • A negative impact on the environment

“There is increasing evidence that [commuting] adversely affects our psychological and physical health… The implication is that that we are spending our limited and valuable time participating in an activity that is not good for our wellbeing.” – Professor Jennifer Roberts, Dept. of the Economics University of Sheffield and InstEAD on the effects of commuting.

Commuting adversely affects our psychological and physical health
How well remote working actually suits an employee depends on their own personal circumstances. The pros are clear – there’s no need to carve out a couple of hours of your day to face the commute; instead the person can get out of bed and get straight to work (well, after breakfast at least), feeling fresh and relaxed.

That said, for some, remote working may not be practical or preferable:

  • They may not have enough space at home to create a work environment
  • They simply find it impossible to work at home, finding the setting too distracting
  • There are times and roles where remote working isn’t practical from an operational point of view

Alternatively, some employees may find remote working off-putting for social and cultural reasons, for instance missing out on office interactions and that critical feeling of being part of a team creating a brilliant game

For some, the commute can be productive, giving them time to process their working day, catch up on that endless list of podcasts or do their online grocery shopping.


An ally, not enemy, to productivity

To fend off the risk of staff looking for a new role due to commute lengths, we believe that the industry would benefit from more open in-house discussions about remote working’s potential for those who want the opportunity to use it.

While there may be some employers who believe that remote working could mean staff being less productive, it’s worth considering a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research; it states that if remote working is supported by full-fiber broadband across the UK, the effects could be profound. Not only would it boost the UK economy by £59 billion – but also increase productivity to £1,800 per person due to reductions in commute times.

Such figures suggest that sensible remote working policies could be a win-win for both employers and employees. Remember, as an industry, we all need to be more open to adopting a full range of flexible working practices. This ensures that the right work/life balance is struck for every single employee – whether they want to be in the office or wish to work from home.

Whether you’re looking to reduce your commute or would like something a bit more flexible to take a look at our jobs in games where we’ve got globally opportunities just waiting for you to discover!

Catrin Jones

Operations Manager

Catrin is a jack of all trades at Skillsearch, but she's master of them all too! The unflappable, enthusiastic face that will be your go-to for any questions - that's for contractors, clients and us in the office as well. She's always ready and willing to help and we haven't yet found a problem that she can't solve. She does have an Achilles heel though as she hasn’t yet worked out how to whistle, which would really come in handy when it comes to her new fur baby – Evie the Cockapoo! 

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