Remote working culture in game companies – pros and cons

Remote, on-site or hybrid? Traditional office setting may be a thing of the past.
Remote working meeting on Zoom

The game industry has recently experienced a notable shift in culture towards remote work, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic and technological advancements that don’t require certain employees to put in office hours.

Many wonder how these companies manage work-life balance in a post-pandemic world. It has become a significant step up for many studios, offering flexibility and an even wider talent pool. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to working remotely.

In this article, we’ll look at remote work’s pros and cons, such as the challenges of fostering team spirit and maintaining productivity.

Pros of remote working in gaming companies

Although “remote working” is the more common term to describe someone who works from home (or anywhere that’s not an office), it’s also known as telecommuting or even teleworking, which refers to employees working outside the traditional office setting.

Remote working in gaming companies offers numerous advantages, including increased flexibility and work-life balance for employees which allows them to manage their time more effectively and reduce stress levels. Companies also have access to a global talent pool that allows them to hire people from different parts of the world and benefit from diverse perspectives and expertise.

Cost saving is also a good benefit for gaming companies when it comes to remote working culture, as it allows them to reduce the overhead costs that come with maintaining office spaces, such as rent, utilities, and other office supplies. Contrary to common misconceptions, remote working can also lead to increased productivity among employees as they’ll have fewer distractions and can work at the time of the day they are most productive.

Despite Tesla CEO and X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk’s comments on those advocating for widespread remote being “detached from reality,” remote work helps reduce carbon emissions by minimizing commuting, thus promoting environmental sustainability.

Cons of remote working in gaming companies

Creativity and collaboration are critical factors that determine the success of game development within gaming companies. While this can be a good thing, it can also hinder a game’s success, which brings us to the downsides of remote working in gaming companies.

First off, communication breakdowns are common due to the absence of face-to-face interactions, leading to misunderstandings and project delays as team members may struggle to convey ideas effectively. Another challenge with remote working culture in gaming companies is that collaboration – an essential part of the game industry – can be hindered by the lack of spontaneous brainstorming sessions and impromptu discussions, making it difficult to foster a collaborative environment.

Remote working can also contribute to feelings of isolation and burnout among employees accustomed to the social dynamics of an office setting. Without the camaraderie of colleagues, working remotely can impact their overall well-being. There’s also the issue of remote working posing security risks as employees may access sensitive company data from unsecured networks or devices, necessitating robust cybersecurity measures.

In addition, reliable internet connection and access to necessary software and hardware are crucial for remote workers. Technical issues like network outages or software glitches can disrupt workflow and hinder productivity. Another very common concern with remote working is that workers may struggle to separate their personal and professional lives, leading to burnout and stress.

So which working model is better for gaming companies?

Game companies have demonstrated their ability to produce remarkable titles with remote teams during the COVID lockdown. Hits like Spider-Man Miles Morales and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor were primarily developed in remote settings and turned out to be outstanding games. So I think the remote working model works for gaming companies as long as the job gets done right.

Working from the office also offers unique advantages, especially for roles that require close collaboration and hands-on work. Certain job functions, such as game testing, level design, and art direction, thrive in an office environment where team members can easily communicate, brainstorm ideas, and provide immediate feedback. While remote work has its benefits, the office setting remains essential for fostering creativity and collaboration in specific job roles.

While many studios have embraced a hybrid work model, striking a balance between the two working models is crucial for gaming companies to unlock the full potential of their teams and empower their employees to thrive in this ever-evolving industry.

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