Home\ News\ Timely truths: the opportunities and challenges for dispersed creative teams

One of the characteristics of the early stage community that we support is a high incidence of remote working and dispersed teams. Usually, that’s borne of necessity. Studio overheads can be an expensive burden for an early-stage company. The presently enforced home-working for many sectors lucky enough to have it as an option has brought the practice firmly into the spotlight and for many it’s been a new novelty.

However, this is just steady-state for the many studios and freelancers in the games development sector that wouldn’t work any other way.

We set veteran games journalist Will Freeman the task of getting a unique insight into the new challenges by speaking with some industry experts in our community for our latest podcast.

“It’s ok to suck as it to begin with…accepting that it’s going to take a little bit of time to become comfortable with it and finding out what works well for you.”

Says Colin Anderson of Denki

Colin goes on to describe the “theatre of the workplace” and how that can sometimes become a distraction that’s avoided by working on a dispersed basis.

Simon Bennett from Roll7 is a long-established convert to dispersed teams. He believes that, business leaders scrutinise their own management techniques and practices more closely when managing dispersed teams and this improves clarity for their distributed workforce.

“Going remote has actually helped us streamline the way that we manage people and over-communicate the tools that we need to use to get and ensure that people are on track. When we’re in a studio there’s this weird idea that, well everyone’s here so everyone must know what they’re doing. Remote working has made us better managers and better communicators.”

Although remote working can present challenges for a team in not always being able to discuss matters quickly, Simon’s found that remote working has coincidentally improved the quality of life for the team in a way that maximises their creative potential.

“Although we’ve become a remote studio for reasons around the quality of our output, the people that we bring in to make our games can experience profound changes in their life because of remote working.”

But nothing is perfect and the contributors are frank in sharing challenges that need to be addressed in terms of team bonding, personal procrastination, overwork and trust amongst a number of issues discussed frankly.

Our very own Deborah Farley, Head of Tranzfuser, also brings a unique perspective in terms of managing multiple teams in one go from a central location.

“We work remotely with our teams and Local Hub Coordinators based right across the UK to deliver the Tranzfuser programme. We very much rely on online tools to host meetings and for teams to complete forms. A lot of our teams won’t meet each other until we have a main event so we much encourage online community building as best we can.

When we have been able to run events and meet-ups we try to host them in various places across the UK, which has been helpful for the project. Being able to tap into different regional resources has been an advantage to the programme. It would be great to be able to drop in for a cuppa to see the teams, but our approach gives them the freedom to get on and do what they need to do without the constant interference of us visiting.”

Kirsty Gibson, Head of Community and Comms at UKGTF, said:

“Will has done a fabulous job in blending the checks and balances of dispersed creative teams in the interviews. We think this podcast will be a really useful resource for our community and this year’s Tranzfuser teams. In fact, the advice applies to any creative team practitioners with shared roles in different projects, regardless of sector”