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Minos
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It's about time we have a dedicated thread for this, since it's a reality for most of us :)

How's your experience with WFH been so far? What are some the ways you found to adapt? I'm also curious to know some stats or anecdotes on the impact of WFH in productivity for game studios...

For me personally I actually became much more productive and skilled in the past months. Because I'm able to manage my time better, I have time to do research, experiment, and learn new skills. This is something that was very challenging when I had to be in the office 8 hours a day, even in the days where my productivity was shit. I remember I tried to pick up Substance Designer at work, but it was simply impossible. Too many distractions, and an office is not an environment very conductive to learning. Working at home, I just asked my producer to take 2 weeks and really narrow down on the software and see how we can use it in our pipeline, and it was an amazing investment. I don't use it all the time, but some things that normally would take me a few hours, I can do in minutes in SD (for example, windows, garage doors, etc...). I've also been learning Polish for over a year now, my classes used to be on Saturday (kind of a bummer, since Saturdays are for fun), and now I can have then on Friday mornings. Much better.

When we all started work from home back in march my productivity was shit. I was reading too many news, had a strange schedule and like everyone else was anxious with the situation. But with time, I learned to adapt my routine to be as efficient, working as "little" as I can. I don't mean doing as little as I can, but doing as most as I can, during my most productive hours (the afternoon), and avoid overworking. (everytime I overwork I need a few days to recharge after).

One thing that I found that really helps my productivity and well being is to go on walks during the day. I try to work in bursts of 2 to 3 hours, then go for a walk. Walking under the sun heats up my body and makes me feel more energetic. It also removes the brain fog I usually get when looking at a screen for too long.

Anyways, these are just some of the things that I learned! How about you?

 

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First two months were plagued by technical issues and a slow descent off course for me. After the initial lockdown, I returned to the office and worked from there the entire summer. Now that it's getting colder, I've started to work from home again. Working in bursts and taking breaks to stretch or go outside is a must for me as well. The whole situation has it's pros and cons. One of the biggest positive aspects is that you no longer waste time on the commute, but the big negative is that work and off-work can blend between sometimes. I've been trying to stick to a schedule as best as I can.  Overall, studio productivity hasn't really been affected that much. Occasional issues, but definitely a huge improvement since March and April.

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This whole situation reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: "Everything in moderation... including moderation."

More than half year into WFH, and the thought of going back to the office isn't exactly a pleasant one for me. Time is life's greatest currency, my time is more valuable to me than anything else in life, including money. Office life comes with a lot of negative things too, commute, spending money on lunch and coffee, a lot of distractions, a lot of meetings, office politics, etc. I just don't think a creative industry lends itself very well to the 9 to 5 formula. After a while it just starts to feel like a regular job and all the trappings of that formula starts to creep into your day to day life.

I'm loving WFH, before this I would only see my own son for a couple of hours or less per day! I mean, just the thought of going back to that makes me sad, I'd see my family a little bit before leaving in the morning, then return home around 7pm, have dinner and play with him a little bit and by 8:30pm he needs to be in bed.
At home, I can control my own hours, which requires a lot of discipline and work ethic, eating nutritious meals, going outside, exercise daily, taking breaks is just as important as working hard. It's been a rocky ride for me, I think June/July was the worst part for me, I wasn't delivery much in terms of productivity at work which made me feel guilty and really affected my well being, maybe I let the pendulum swing too much the other way and I lost momentum. Whatever happened, I found that 3/4 hours of pure focused work is often all you need before getting diminished returns, specially in long term.

So going back to that quote, I think as life slowly returns back to normal, I think we can find a middle ground because I have to admit I really miss my colleagues, I miss brainstorming ideas in organic and natural ways. Maybe we as an industry can learn to balance home / work life a little bit better. Maybe the team meets on monday morning for a weekly sync then go back to our home offices to do work. Maybe we do Friday afternoon playtests back at the office. Maybe we end the week with a beer while discussing the outcome of the playtest. Maybe departments can schedule a get together at a park or esplanade and discuss their progress. Maybe... just fucking maybe work life doesn't need to be fucking boring anymore.

 

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After making the jump to indie life from AAA, there is no way I could ever go back to working in an office. I do miss people and the organic conversations that would occur, but the ability to make my own hours and live where I want has been amazing so far. I REALLY don't miss office politics... I have a feeling those people will be weeded out quicker now, since they have to actually produce work. 

I was in a discussion a couple of months ago where I asked a few company leads if they were worried about retention. Since people might be less likely to stick around if there are high levels of BS at a studio. Why stress when you can just switch jobs without moving. We'll have to see how that pans out I guess. 

Have any of you gents felt that? Or are you more laser focused now than you were before? Maybe less distractions? More? I know my dog is happy to have me at home all day XD. 

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It's a rollercoaster for me... Some days I can wake up super early and work for 8 hours straight without getting distracted and some days its 12 hours of constant struggle to keep my hands on the editor...

My brain is kinda hard wired to learn while at home so some days I'm constantly trying to find something interesting to watch/listen while working. Then hour later I realise I paid zero attention to it...
It's also tiring to think in this way - "Ok If I wake up at 8am I will be done at 4pm" but then something happens and I need to leave the house for hour or so and my work time expands and I get anxious that even tho I wake up early to do my job I will be done with it late in the evening...

Some people work in late hours and have free time in the morning. I tried that but getting messages, meetings and supporting people with information while you should have fun and rest is not really that fun for me.
I think the entire HO situation looks a bit different if you work in smaller/ indie company where you don't necessarily need support from leads/ game designers/ producers and you can manage your schedule more freely. 

Also having a small flat took a big toll on me. Studio apartment - you sleep in front of your pc, you wake up in front of your pc, you eat near your pc, you have fun in front of it ... Some days I would wake up, do my job for 8 hours and then... switch to my PC and work on csgo map for another 8 hours. Everything in a single room in the same place... Really killed my productivity at some point.

I love that I don't need to spend an hour a day in traffic and in some cases just leave my apartment and do whatever but it comes with a price. 
Overall, I still prefer to work from home but it would be cool to get back into office for some time to meet coworkers etc.

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Same as buddy, I've been doing it for 11 years, business as usual. I couldn't work in an office, I'd kill leads/producers. Saying that though, the view and setup of the valve offices was super dope. I could work there maybe. But I don't have the required 200 IQ valve requires of its employees :v 

I do what Mino mentioned about 2-3 bursts and going for a walk, I supplement it with the gym as well. And I normally work more at night as I just prefer it.

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1 hour ago, dux said:

Same as buddy, I've been doing it for 11 years, business as usual. I couldn't work in an office, I'd kill leads/producers. Saying that though, the view and setup of the valve offices was super dope. I could work there maybe. But I don't have the required 200 IQ valve requires of its employees :v 

I do what Mino mentioned about 2-3 bursts and going for a walk, I supplement it with the gym as well. And I normally work more at night as I just prefer it.

How do you cope with a "not yet done with my 8 hours" feel? Does it bother you at all? Or there is some clever way to trick my brain? :D

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5 minutes ago, dux said:

Not really, 5 days a week I'm in work mode. Sat and Sun I do my own thing. I'm so used to it I just get stuff done. Some days I just can't be arsed, sure, especially this year, but that happens with everyone.

 giphy.gif

I worded my question in a wrong way :D You dont feel bad about draggin out your 8 hours of work with all the small breaks in between work burst? Don't you have a feeling that you work whole day? Thats what bothers me the most when doing breaks mid day for example and I'm trying to find a way to not feel guilty about it.

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I did feel guilty that I wasn't working non stop for my first few years. Worked myself to the point of exhaustion. My mental health and sanity are important to me, so I learned not to work myself into a hole. I'm more beneficial to the company, and myself, functional over non functional. Try being creative and focused when you're exhausted and burnt out from working non stop. Your work ends up being more trash than it was before.

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8 minutes ago, dux said:

I did feel guilty that I wasn't working non stop for my first few years. Worked myself to the point of exhaustion. My mental health and sanity are important to me, so I learned not to work myself into a hole. I'm more beneficial to the company, and myself, functional over non functional. Try being creative and focused when you're exhausted and burnt out from working non stop. Your work ends up being more trash than it was before.

Wise words dux... wise words. thanks for the answer!

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Even when we were all back in the office, I don't think there was anybody that literally put in 8 straight hours of work. It's just not a realistic thing over long periods of time. We actually took 10-15 min breaks to go outside every hour or so and that made a whole lot of difference. If you manage to put in 4-6 solid hours of work per day that's great. But sometimes you just get worn down and are gonna be less productive. 

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14 hours ago, Lizard said:

It's a rollercoaster for me... Some days I can wake up super early and work for 8 hours straight without getting distracted and some days its 12 hours of constant struggle to keep my hands on the editor...

My brain is kinda hard wired to learn while at home so some days I'm constantly trying to find something interesting to watch/listen while working. Then hour later I realise I paid zero attention to it...
It's also tiring to think in this way - "Ok If I wake up at 8am I will be done at 4pm" but then something happens and I need to leave the house for hour or so and my work time expands and I get anxious that even tho I wake up early to do my job I will be done with it late in the evening...

Some people work in late hours and have free time in the morning. I tried that but getting messages, meetings and supporting people with information while you should have fun and rest is not really that fun for me.
I think the entire HO situation looks a bit different if you work in smaller/ indie company where you don't necessarily need support from leads/ game designers/ producers and you can manage your schedule more freely. 

Also having a small flat took a big toll on me. Studio apartment - you sleep in front of your pc, you wake up in front of your pc, you eat near your pc, you have fun in front of it ... Some days I would wake up, do my job for 8 hours and then... switch to my PC and work on csgo map for another 8 hours. Everything in a single room in the same place... Really killed my productivity at some point.

I love that I don't need to spend an hour a day in traffic and in some cases just leave my apartment and do whatever but it comes with a price. 
Overall, I still prefer to work from home but it would be cool to get back into office for some time to meet coworkers etc.

do you really need to clock in 8 hours? Or can you maybe set yourself some goals and try to maintain a more steady output. Honestly the part that killed about being at the office was being "forced" to stay there 8 hours. Some days I was an 8 hours kind of guy, while osme days I was just a 2 hours kind of guy... and hand to do like the guy in Office Space and pretend I was busy or go for looong walks until it was time to go home lol.

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10 hours ago, Minos said:

do you really need to clock in 8 hours? Or can you maybe set yourself some goals and try to maintain a more steady output. Honestly the part that killed about being at the office was being "forced" to stay there 8 hours. Some days I was an 8 hours kind of guy, while osme days I was just a 2 hours kind of guy... and hand to do like the guy in Office Space and pretend I was busy or go for looong walks until it was time to go home lol.

No we don't need to. When we plan our next sprint we plan it for 6 hour work day so it leaves 2 hours of meetings, editor loading times, calls, and mandatory breaks each hour. But on home office is a bit different. When we have a boring meeting I know I could spend some time in the editor and it leaves me with a feeling that I need to compensate that later.

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