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Redesigning Remote Office

Remote Office has grown to be an integral and celebrated part of our company culture. However, after running it for two years we realized that it needed tweaking. Understanding its importance, we knew we needed to tread carefully.

We all concluded that remote office was, of course, a brilliant idea and we had managed to validate its importance. The idea had traveled a path from need capturing (“Have to see some sun during the dark winter.”) to an easily expressed and validated idea (“Let’s have a remote office!”). So we had a tested concept at hand – but was it a scalable cultural product yet? The answer was no.

After some deliberation, we isolated our issues to scaling and inclusivity. Scaling the idea from 6 to 30 people didn’t go without glitches in our second remote office season. Surprisingly it wasn’t the technology or different time zones that created the hiccups. Increasing the size of the group from 6 to 30 people and the length from a month to three months simultaneously resulted in too many variables changing. The new season was also rather toiling on our admin team.

Test, improve, repeat

A more scalable design started to emerge when we revisited the original idea: smaller remote office teams in different locations rather than one gigantic group in one destination. More individually inspired remote offices over centrally managed initiatives.

Inclusivity was also an issue. Although working in Thailand during the gloomy winter months is a tempting offer, it was a feasible opportunity for only some of us. Timing, family situations, mixing work and pastime and so forth were some of the concerns that surfaced when discussing the matter internally. Making remote office work possible for everyone became the most important design driver.

Allowing for maximum autonomy was also one of the key needs guiding our design work. Allocating an individual remote office budget for everyone emerged as a paramount feature. Autonomy in scheduling became also very important. Without the ability to fit remote officing to your own schedules, the whole thing would end up being quite useless.

A new way forward

We launched the new Remote Office internally in September. As with all design work, it was exhilarating – and a bit scary – to see people starting to play with the idea and make it their own. It’s now safe to say that ‘so far so good’. By the time of writing, we have close to 10 remote office plans in action, and the idea has been recognized outside of Frantic as well. People interested in setting up a remote office find like-minded souls on our dedicated Slack channel and decisions are made very transparently, enthusiastically and, most importantly, together.

So what’s next? We’ll run this version until summer 2018, gather feedback and make tweaks along the way when needed. If you are interested in running a similar initiative, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We’d love to share our findings in more detail.