Debugging D&I: How to make flexibility work for your studio

At Amiqus, we’ve recently published the results of our unique research into the games industry’s attitudes to remote and flexible working. Key findings have revealed that many individuals wish to retain some level of flexible/remote working going forward. And, with just over 82 per cent of respondents saying that their productivity levels have remained the same – or increased – while working from home, offering more flexibility in working practices is surely worth serious consideration.

Some of the major benefits for respondents regarding working remotely over the past year or so have included ‘spending more time with the family’ (61.4 per cent), ‘enhanced work/life balance’ (72.5 per cent) and ‘easing childcare challenges’. With that in mind, it’s not unfair to assume that women – or others with caring responsibilities – have found working from home to have had a positive impact on both their professional and personal lives.

These benefits are similarly highlighted when individuals were asked why they want more flexible working options in the future:-

A better work/life balance – 80.6%

To avoid commuting time – 79.9%

Improving personal wellbeing – 63.3%

Spend more time with family & friends – 61.9%

We can conclude that if we, as an industry, wish to attract and retain more women, we should be open to remote and flexible working options. Or risk losing that talent.

Our research also reveals that almost half of respondents (49.3 per cent) are considering a career move to achieve their ideal working conditions. A further 29.5 per cent are ‘possibly’ looking at such a move. That’s a worryingly high percentage of individuals who may be quitting their jobs for pastures new…

The past 20 months have shown that business can continue – and, in the case of the games industry, thrive – with staff working from home. But changing working practices permanently has made some studios hesitant. I would urge you to consider how flexible working can enrich the lives of your teams, which in turn will mean happier and more motivated employees.

A more long-term policy of flexible working options may need more considerations regarding best practice. Here are some key suggestions on how to make flexible and hybrid working work for your studio…

Set Expectations

This is not just about establishing when staff are expected to be working, join meetings, etc. But, just as importantly, it’s about ensuring your teams don’t feel obligated to work extended hours. Without the natural break of a commute, it’s very easy to continue working into the evening and at weekends.

Connect and Communicate

Regular meetings are, of course, vital. But ensure that staff and colleagues feel comfortable about asking for help and advice on an ad hoc basis too, and make time for them – whether it’s via Slack, a phone call, Zoom or email, whatever suits the individual.

Don’t Sideline Individuals

The games industry showed incredible resource and creativity (of course!) when it came to keeping teams connected during lockdown. Remember this when it comes to managing and motivating a hybrid workforce long term. Those who are working flexible hours or WFH should never be made to feel like they’re not a part of the team, and certainly not less important than those who choose to work from the office/studio. FOMO shouldn’t be a desirable outcome!

Monitor Performance… But Also Wellbeing

If your staff are working remotely, it’s easy to worry about what they’re doing and when they’re working. Trust is the key word here – and this can be achieved by monitoring goals and milestones.

But paying attention to staff wellbeing is just as important in this scenario too. Are your staff taking lunch breaks? Are they working extended hours? Are they actually suffering, in terms of wellbeing, from working remotely? Make sure they know how and where to seek support if they need it.

There’s no doubt that there are many new considerations to take into account if you have staff working remotely. But our research has clearly shown that there is a huge desire for flexibility and innovation in working practices; a shift that now looks likely to be permanent.

Some adjustments will be required to managerial skills and procedures, but the ultimate result is a happier and more motivated workforce. And a company that is more attractive to new talent.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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