A New Normal

How covid-19 redefined the norm to GameHouse’ way of working

Following the news of an unfamiliar, highly infectious virus spreading across the world, on March 8th 2020 a message was shared in GameHouse’ company-wide Slack-channel:

“Hi everyone @channel, based on a statement made this evening by the Dutch Government, it is advised for all people in the province of Brabant to work remotely as much as possible. Also, the Government of Spain advises people to work remotely as much as possible… …Let’s see if we can conduct our business completely over Slack! Please try and keep doing stand-ups and let’s try and stick to all scheduled meetings. Stay healthy and happy!”

We went home that day taking our laptops and some other essentials, assuming that we’d be back soon enough. Now, almost 1,5 years later, the offices are pretty much in the same state as they were left in. Some chairs never seated again, desk plants dried up and most of the kitchen cabinets emptied. 

What is “normal”?

But as much as our offices remain a token of our old habits, they are not what we are planning to return to. Although many of us were skeptical of working from home or at the very least anxious about working remotely full time, we were quick to see its benefits. Not only did the output of teams’ efforts remain similar to what it was prior, teams and individuals in some ways thrived. 

In a survey conducted in October, half a year into our new way of working, almost all employees mentioned they didn’t want to go back to the way we worked before. They valued the enhanced flexibility, spoke of working more effectively and some found new opportunities to better balance work with their private lives. 

Surely, the losses were felt too. Especially long term. We did miss out on creativity, spontaneity and fun. Although video chats were more effective, they certainly were a lot less fun and eventually a lot more tiring too. Having a pizza together virtually was still good, but couldn’t replace the real deal. Not even to mention our Zoom Open Bar versus ending the week with an actual drink with your co-workers.

But given the fact that those real-life interactions were simply out of the question, working remotely wasn’t half bad and it made us question some of the habits we had built. Trying to focus for a couple of hours straight in an open office plan was nearly impossible. And how about having our agendas filled with lengthy not-so-to-the-point meetings? Turns out our old ‘normal’ wasn’t all that normal after all. 

Opening up… to alternatives

The pandemic proved we had gotten stuck in our way of thinking. Being together in an office for 40 hours a week was a given and we didn’t challenge it with alternatives. But another thing the pandemic proved: we could ‘quite easily’ change this. In fact, this experience taught us that we are capable of improving our collective way of working – literally – overnight!

With that realization in mind, we want to make sure we come out of this pandemic with an improved, more inclusive way of working. After all… when life gives you a pandemic, make it epic! It doesn’t rhyme… I know… but it does ring true! Let’s take the gains of this experience, while reinstating what we lost during these months. And let’s always stay aware of, and open to new optics and opportunities to improve our way of working. Because together we can make our (parttime) return to the office truly epic!

We’re currently figuring out what our first iteration of a post-pandemic normal looks like. But one thing we can already share is that it won’t be what it was before March 2021, nor what it will be in 2025. From here on, we’ll try to combine our newly gained flexibility with the fun, creativity and spontaneity of being in the office. And this won’t be a static plan. We’ll continue to experiment and adapt to creating a better working environment for the full spectrum of individuals that make up our team, while giving work a more balanced space in the personal lives of our talent. 

Want to know more about our vision for the future and our plans for reopening our offices? Stay posted and read up on it soon in part 2 of “A New Normal”.

Thank you for reading!

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