The Future of Work in the UK Gaming Sector

While different economies are recovering, the gaming sector which was in pole position to handle the challenges of the health crisis is considering the long term advantages and challenges of working remotely and flexibly.

No factor has driven remote working in recent years like the health crisis. Millions of businesses out there had to swiftly alter their modes of operation in the bid to accommodate remote working. One sector that stood out in embracing this change in the way firms work is the online gaming and online gambling sectors, and that’s because of its resilience all through the health crisis and its agile operations.

While plans to encourage workers to get back to their offices have been halted by governments, the future of work must be considered by businesses. Most of the firms are reviewing their experiences working remotely during the period of the crisis, and considering what the new normal may portend for their workplace and workforce.

According to the creative, IT centric, and tech savvy employees of the gaming industry and at the UK’s new online casinos, there would be a lot of challenges and opportunities from the chance to reinvent the future of the workplace. Information from Twitter early on was that their staff can choose to work from home for how long they deem fit, even if it’s forever, especially for those whose positions and roles accommodate that. It’s become apparent in studies that they’ve made provisions for permanent remote working, while people that want to work from the office will still have it open for them. But against this, leaders of other tech businesses are reporting that caution must be taken when we consider working permanently remotely in the future. So, the question now is, will businesses aspire to work entirely remotely in the future?

Opportunities

Majority of the employers and employees in different firms are now having second thoughts about their decentralised and remote workforce, having operated for more than 6 months in a completely remote manner.

There is a continuous increase in commercial rents in the gaming hubs like the south east and London, and this accounts for one of the biggest expenses that gaming firms face. Secondly, it helps employees to save money and time, as they do not need to transport to the central hubs where the offices are located from their homes that are normally located in the suburbs. Many businesses may have the efficiencies, and most importantly, the cost savings that remote working will bring about as the major benefit and the biggest factor to their recovery.

Through remote working, employees can also hit a better work life balance. While they keep the zeal to succeed and continue to make efforts to grow in their career, developers and other employees in the industry are also looking for time to take care of other commitments and interests they may have apart from work. As many employees revel in the advantages or working remotely, it would be a very wise thing for businesses to look into the idea of remote working more critically, as a means to lure in and retain more talent.

Geography limits traditional hiring practices, and this limits the pool of talent that a business can capitalize on. The report is that a remote based job in Roll7 witnessed 10 times more applications than the same job when it was advertised for their London studio. There are clear benefits of a diverse and wider talent pool for the video games area, and because of the health crisis, some studios have witnessed an acceleration of the changes to flexible working practices that were in existence.

Challenges

While many firms have adapted to the idea of working remotely while the crisis lasted and have created some workarounds, there are some challenges that must be taken into consideration before they marshal out a permanent policy for the staff.

The game development field is very collaborative. Experience has shown that individuals that are creative will perform better in team based physical environments, where spontaneous thinking and challenges thrive, and where ideas could be exchanged between each other. So, the question is, can this collaborative atmosphere be recreated permanently with team sites and video calls, and how possible is it for new teams to be created and newbies in old teams to become established with no form of in person experience?

The industry has been hugely challenged by crunch culture in the recent past, and the not so clear boundaries from remote working and management will entail that for studios to be properly managed, they would need practical and thoughtful plans. While employees are given the chance to manage some other areas of their life like picking up kids from school and extended lunch breaks for workouts by the flexible working or working from home plan, the major thing for many is just to get more work done.

Companies must think about how to meet their obligations and the duty of taking care of their staff without the daily oversight that happens in the office environment. Some of the issues to be considered here may include continuous fatigue or crunch, which could be managed with technological solutions that will make it possible for screen time to be managed (though there are some cultural and privacy considerations attached to these), but a broader plan is needed to give the mental and wellbeing support that they need. The way to identify these and offer the needed help must be considered when the normal in person interactions in the physical office environment is not available. Wilder health and safety challenges also exist, especially when it comes to the home office setups of the employees and the firms must not lose sight of their continuous duty to take care of the health and safety of their staff.

Some risks are also triggered by the use of data security practices and confidential information by the staff when the necessary physical supervision is not available, because people are working from home and the possibility of organized competitive activity is overshadowed. Firms should make sure they have very clear, up to date, and properly disseminated policies in this respect.

What’s next?

The way to maintain an agile workforce is being considered by many businesses in part or in full in the long term, especially in consideration of the opportunities and the many benefits they’ve come across in the past few months.

The move to achieving an agile workforce will go well when there is full employee buy-in in the entire cadres of an organization. Employee engagement and surveys should be a very huge priority for firms, and they should also consider the practical and legal issues involved in altering the existing terms and conditions, and bringing in agile working policies, while managing the safety and health risks it poses.

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