Working remotely on a permanent basis is a subject often brought up in the world of games & interactive recruitment. Whether you work internally or externally you’re sure to be asked this question by prospective candidates countless times, yet the immediate response is usually ‘of course not!’
But are we dismissing this out of hand without really weighing up the positives and the negatives? Or is this genuinely an inconceivable option for the vast majority of studios? I’ve asked a number of studio owners & employees alike for their personal & professional opinions, some whom work remotely & others working onsite to keep things (relatively) unbiased.
The most commonly highlighted positive for working remotely, somewhat unsurprisingly, is the flexibility and autonomy that comes with it. While the majority of the world’s work force are busy making their way to work, sometimes with stomach wrenching train delays (it rhymes with Govern Fail), the remote worker can roll out of bed in the mid-morning and log on with a cup of tea in one hand & a slice of toast in the other. One Studio Director summed it up perfectly when saying; ‘It allows me to balance my personal & work life a lot better. Plus I don’t have to change out of my pyjamas, unless I’m doing virtual meetings!’
Nevertheless, it’s not without its drawbacks too and once again there is very much a common theme amongst the key negatives. The inability to have informative ad-hoc face-to-face conversations with team members makes things tricky, particularly for those looking to enhance & hone their skills. This was summed up perfectly by a Designer who said ‘I think to grow the most professionally you should have a lot of interaction with colleagues that are more skilled/experienced than you. In this instance, physical presence is a lot more beneficial than a virtual conversation.’
With this negative aspect of remote work forming the main divide, there ended up a split almost down the middle between those that would take the remote option & those that would take the in-house option when given the choice. Those for remote were generally of the more experienced variety, sometimes with families to bear in mind and at a high level in their respective fields. On the other hand, the pro-onsite side tended to be relatively less experienced & keen to learn more from those around them, often single too.
With all of this in mind, you could conclude that a studio looking to attract more senior hires, which might otherwise be out of reach due to location and/or salary, should explore the possibilities of fully remote work. However, if your aim is to build a studio with a mix of experience levels, then a fully on-site team is better suited due to the impression an experienced head can have on that budding talent.
So what advice for any studio considering employing a remote workforce?? The changes required for moving from onsite to remote are pretty significant, with a particular impact on company culture, so should be thought through properly. ‘Ask yourself why you’re doing it & what you’re trying to achieve, take on board the thoughts and concerns of the whole team. Allow it to take time and make transitions at a steady pace.’
Finally, the key characteristic to look for when searching for prospective candidates is autonomy. If you’re working remotely you need a team you can trust to deliver results without needing a boss to ‘crack the whip’.
Here at Skillsearch Games & Interactive we’ve helped a number of studios build both remote & onsite teams from the ground up. So if you’re looking at additions to your team or considering adapting to a remote office, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help out!