Finnish developer Dodreams is best known for their multiplayer combat racing game Drive Ahead!
A year of working entirely remotely is starting to take its toll – even for us introverts.
Taking care of the team’s emotional connection should be everyone’s priority now.
Before the Covid crisis in many EU countries, remote working was completely new for more than half of people who now work from home.
The McKinsey Global Study 2020 indicates that 69% of people feel more or as productive as before. 86% feel more satisfied now with working remotely.
Nevertheless, disengagement and social detachment are increasing.
Many organizations work effectively remotely. At first, the Finnish mobile game studio Dodreams Ltd. noted how excited his team was about working from home.
People felt that at last they could concentrate; they didn’t waste time commuting; and working in a sweat is so much more pleasant.
SuperEvil’s Kristian Segerstrale probably said it best in Spring 2020 when sharing tips for remote working.
- So, are you excited to have daily virtual coffee with your entire business?
- Can’t you wait for the next chance to watch your CEO eat sushi at a team lunch?
- Have you managed to organize remote work with your team and projects, and day-to-day operations are going pretty well?
But how are you emotionally?
- How is the team spirit?
- Are people chatting about random things unrelated to work, casually over coffee or on the online water cooler?
- Do inner jokes flow and spontaneous brainstorming take you to weird places?
People feel excluded from discussions and decisions.
Many organizations don’t know how to maintain an emotional connection with their coworkers and deal with fatigue.
They need to connect with others, but a natural symptom of virtual meeting fatigue arises – not wanting to show your face.
The vicious circle begins.
Many organizations do not know how to maintain an emotional connection with their colleagues and fight fatigue: especially extroverts suffer because they cannot virtually read body language and microexpressions so easily.
- Ask your teammates regularly how they are doing and don’t just accept the first response “I’m fine”.
- Don’t just talk about goals and how to achieve them. Listen and ask for more.
- Celebrate successes, share failures, emphasize trust, and have fun together.
- Remember to try to understand the different personalities of people.
Patches tried and tested
Many organizations have been successful with the first part of remote work, but are lacking with the second part.
Dodreams has figured out how to tackle it since even Finnish introverts are running out of coworkers and work friends after a year away from the office!
According to a Eurofund study carried out in July 2020, 78% of employees would like to continue working remotely from time to time after the crisis, but only 13% would like to do so on a daily basis.
When the pandemic began, the plan was to completely transform office life online. The plan of course did not work.
CEO Erik Pöntiskoski explains: “We realized that people really didn’t want to eat in front of the camera, so we had to think of something other than remote lunches and the virtual coffee machine. “
The following list has been thoroughly tested by the Dreamweavers team at Dodream.
- Tip 1: Set aside time to talk about things other than work
Dodreams teams use the Donut app for a weekly virtual coffee with a random team member. It is voluntary to join the Slack channel where the application automatically associates you with a colleague.
Take a virtual selfie screenshot of the call and share it. The funniest, with the strangest virtual backgrounds, were photoshoped into a collage.
“We don’t expect people to necessarily talk about work-related things. The only advice we give you is to discuss something that made you think recently or a fun thing that you have discovered or learned.
“This way team members can discover common passions in game making and life!” », Says Pöntiskoski.
Who knows what hobbies or common interests you might have with a coworker?
Random virtual coffee breaks have been essential in onboarding new team members, it’s an easy and fun way to get to know each other.
It is important to note that the remote integration has remained, even after the pandemic.
Pöntiskoski continues: “At first it was silly to have a bot assign you to have virtual coffee with a random teammate. But it’s actually pretty good because there’s a big threshold to reach out to someone and say “Shall we have coffee and chat, just the two of us.”
“What if I disturb them?” What if they don’t want to talk to me?
- Tip 2: Do things you love together
Since Dodreams is a game studio, everyone loves to play games. After the weekly calls, someone usually asks if anyone is ready for some of us.
Playing together creates traditions, legends and internal jokes.
Playing together creates traditions, legends and internal jokes. What brings the team together. Another useful app is Bunch, where you can chat with a group of friends while playing games.
The team also offers weekly challenges, made with the CoDo app. The idea is to encourage people to do something together, even from a distance. It could be stretching, sunbathing, or listing your least favorite songs and creating an epic playlist.
Sometimes a little silly competition with work friends is just what it takes. People don’t like being told to do what’s right for them, so make sure the challenges are impossible to overcome.
- Tip 3: Always try to have fun, especially in a meeting
The custom background feature in Google Meets has been great. It has been especially popular to edit coworkers in your background. And that’s how a new inside joke was born! The stranger the background, the better.
Sometimes everyone multitasks during meetings and sometimes people just listen passively with their cameras turned off.
The solution is Google Jamboard. The team doodles together, sometimes trivial things and sometimes real project planning. The good thing is that everyone participates!
- Tip 4: Play your own game together
The team used to organize a weekly town hall-type event to discuss common topics. At one point it started to become a burden to think of things to discuss.
The solution was simple, they decided to get together to chat and play their own game instead. It can be a development version or the live version, which is so useful and fun at the same time.
Playing without a calendar is also important for game developers. You might discover something surprising!
- Tip 5: Keep decisions open and transparent
Remote decision-making can appear to have been taken behind closed doors. Dodreams keeps invitations to strategy meetings open, so that anyone interested can attend.
Dodreams keeps invitations to strategy meetings open, so that anyone interested can attend.
It is crucial to keep it simple and comfortable for commenting and asking questions. A relaxed and fun atmosphere at meetings really helps. At the end of each meeting, everyone puts on their camera and microphone to greet and say goodbye and thank you.
Work on your slides a bit, try to make them a little more fun than before. Make sure everyone knows why the decision was made and that everyone feels they have been heard in the process.
The most important thing, however, is to maintain the culture of your team, whether it’s sharing stories about your dog or looking ahead a la Zoolander’s Blue Steel looking like the Dodreams team.
Pöntiskoski states that “culture only comes from people and every organization has its own. He just needs to be encouraged in these difficult times. “