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WFH Is Here to Stay – Tips for Managing Remote Teams

ModSquad paved the way with a work from home (WFH) model since 2007. It’s one of the cornerstones of our service offerings. Yet for the larger business community, remote work was the exception rather than the rule.

Now here we are, with a new breed of location independent workers who are able to work remotely, thanks to changes brought about by the global pandemic. Some sectors, like the online gaming industry, were fortunate enough to do well during this recent challenge, even with their entire workforce out of office. For companies where remote work remains viable, the work from home lifestyle is here to stay.

At PAX West last fall, I spoke on this topic with colleagues in the online gaming industry on a panel called Shifting the Workplace Culture in Gaming. The topic also came up for discussion in my other panel, The Changes in Game Publishing 2021.

In fact, the mandatory WFH transition was the hot topic throughout the entire convention. It was an ongoing conversation on change and adaptation that started in 2020 out of necessity and grew into many companies’ normal routine. The WFH aspect of the game industry was under review by absolutely everyone I spoke with at PAX. By that time, the “new normal” was fully embraced by smaller game companies that were happy to drop the costs of maintaining an office environment, while being adopted more grudgingly by large, traditional game companies with sprawling corporate headquarters.

At that time, we all thought we were on the cusp of exiting the pandemic, and it was interesting to see how many companies had already committed to having some or all of their staff working remotely on a permanent basis. Of course, the pandemic shifted gears and pressed on. Companies who had included remote work in their formal plans continue to thrive, while those who viewed it as a temporary measure are having to extend their remote programs as well.

The game industry is not alone in this sea change. According to a recent PwC Pulse survey, 54% of CFOs say they’re making remote work a permanent option for employees. At ModSquad, we well understand both the challenges and benefits of the remote model. Here are some suggestions on where to focus your efforts.

Work environment

In years past, it was rare for employers to allow children or animals into the office, but it’s a reality for people working from home. Both are a comfort and a joy to many. On the flip side, on a call, a noisy child or pet can hamper essential communications. Some adjustments to consider:

  • Some businesses are already implementing stricter guidelines regarding home office environs. Pets can be easily kept out of the home office space, but for children, a return to daycare or in-home care may be required by some companies.
  • Consider flexible working hours, provided that critical meetings are attended. This is a boon to working parents or others with additional family support commitments, or to allow time for animal welfare. It’s what we do at ModSquad, allowing our Mods to choose the shifts that work best for them.

Productivity
Ensuring productivity requires significant planning on the part of management. If all workers have clearly defined tasks and goals with proper follow-up, you’ll be able to accurately measure work performance.

  • Establish productivity reporting practices. Daily summaries and weekly reports will ensure that all work is demonstrated and tracked.
  • Consider adding project management software to help track data and productivity.
  • One-on-one meetings have become even more important in the digital world. It’s an essential tool to connect personally, to review and revise workflows and workloads, and to ensure that everyone is both busy and thriving.

Communication

A higher degree of communication is required when managing remote employees. It governs workflow and helps maintain morale. Finding the right software for your company can only help.

  • Many companies make use of instant messaging services such as Slack, Skype, or Discord, as well as the more traditional email. There are many times that a quick chat message is much more efficient than email or even a call. Reserve email for topics that need to be tracked or require a large number of stakeholders to be involved.
  • Video conferencing has come into wide use, and it’s great to have some face time. Be aware that many people experience video fatigue if they’re always required to be “on.”
  • At ModSquad we use voice-only for most internal meetings. We reserve video conferencing for specific occasions or for client calls (where we follow the lead and comfort level of the client).

The bottom line
Flexibility, change, and adaptation are essential for today’s businesses as remote work continues to grow in importance. If you have questions about how we successfully manage our sizable remote workforce, give us a call. We’re always happy to chat!

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