Working Here... Virtually

Since our last Working Here blog, the Covid-19 global pandemic has changed everything. Lockdown and social distancing have become the norm and though we are starting to see some signs of recovery, life and work are still very different...

With this in mind, I wanted to look back at how we have had to change our approach to running our business, and how the ongoing situation means we are evaluating our needs on an almost daily basis. The whole team has now worked from home for nearly five months and the pandemic has impacted the business in several ways - logistically; transitioning a studio of over 100 people to working from home, culturally; not losing our collaborative approach to our work (despite all now working remotely) and in terms of communication; how we continue to ensure everyone is still talking and has a support network there when needed.

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Looking back, it was a smooth transition on the logistics side, our IT, Facilities and HR  teams did an incredible job of moving all staff off site within a two-week time frame. This was no mean feat when you consider nearly all our team members need VR dev kits as well as their standard PC set up.

Working from home in these exceptional circumstances has brought everyone their own challenges. Whether sharing office space with partners, juggling childcare with work, or being isolated alone, our aim was, and continues to be, to ensure that the support network at the office, our supportive HR team and mental health first aiders etc. continues to be accessible to everyone at home. We have also continued to recruit during this time and have onboarded lots of new starters remotely. We have managed to adjust traditional methods of our induction process to virtual ones along with running the day-to-day, week-to-week operations and processes within the company.

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One of the things we’re most proud of at nDreams is our culture of collaboration and with everyone working offsite we wanted to ensure we didn’t lose this. It’s fairly straightforward to continue with regular project meetings which we now have via Teams, but what about impromptu catch ups, or the more personal chats between friends and colleagues in the kitchens? In the early days of total lockdown we encouraged virtual “tea breaks” and we created new Slack channels to help support different groups of people (#parents-at-ndreams for example). Now lockdown has eased somewhat colleagues are able to meet again, socially distanced, which we have started to encourage. 

In the office we had regular updates from CEO Patrick and would often gather for lunches, celebrations and impromptu games of pool or table tennis. During lockdown, Patrick has sent weekly updates to ensure visibility on the various projects that are running, we’ve held quizzes, created Alternate Reality Games to play and encouraged Bake Off competitions… We’ve delivered fruit around the country, birthday cake cards, completed a virtual trip to the Oculus office whilst raising money for Special Effect, celebrated Pride month, and have more planned to ensure our team continue to feel supported, engaged and involved.

But it’s the team themselves who continue to be the best source of advice, support and the ones who know what the right morale boosting message, meme and GIF is needed at the right time.

Whilst we couldn’t celebrate the launch of our biggest title to date, Phantom: Covert Ops, how we normally would have, on 25th June the whole team came together for videocall launch party with some great stories, memories and a lovely video from none other than David Hayter, who voices General Zhurov in the game. Each team member also received a specially commissioned piece of artwork from the game.

I’m so proud of what the team have achieved during this time and, and although lockdown continues to ease, the majority of nDreams will continue working from home until at least the new year. We have reopened our office safely and slowly to those who need it now, and we’ll ensure we continue to do all we can to support our studio members into the new normal as it unfolds.

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