Quantic Dream switches to remote working
HOW QUANTIC DREAM SWITCHED TO REMOTE WORKING IN THE SPACE OF A FEW HOURS
Initially planned as a means of recruiting talent internationally, the introduction of remote working suddenly became the studio’s top priority in the space of a few hours.
Like the majority of businesses worldwide, in recent weeks Quantic Dream has had to deal with the lockdown measures and the urgent introduction of remote working for as many employees as possible.
Since the start of the health crisis, we started tracking the course of the epidemic with our partner Netease. While we were concerned for their people, this threat nonetheless still seemed a distant one. But once it reached Europe, we responded quickly by taking preventive measures within Quantic Dream with the immediate introduction of “hygiene practices”, as our studio had large stocks of alcohol-based hand sanitizer freely available to our employees since the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic in 2009.
Following consultation with personnel representatives and the various sector managers, and in agreement with the board of directors, David and Guillaume decided, at noon on Thursday, March 12, that as many employees as possible would work from home starting from the following day, and that the studio would shut down completely from Monday, March 16. The shutdown took place in two stages to allow our technical department to provide the best possible support for this urgent migration of the entire studio.
The team spirit throughout the company was quite remarkable and the commitment of our technical director and the IT department was exemplary. So when the French government announced that the first lockdown measures were to start at noon on Tuesday, March 17, Quantic Dream had already shut down completely .
By sheer good fortune, we had been working since December to put in place the tools and software to allow us to develop remote working.
“This option was originally intended to allow us to recruit and to work with people living outside the Paris region, which we felt was possible with the right organization and the appropriate technical and software environment.”
While we had already allowed some employees to work remotely (via TeamViewer or VPN), this had not really been embraced at Quantic Dream. Video game development requires teamwork, involving lots of discussion and debate, and frequent interaction between different departments on a daily basis. It is also an activity requiring significant technical resources not readily accessible off site, such as our sound and motion-capture studios.
However, we reached out to various big names in the sector to analyze the possibility of transferring part of our infrastructure onto the Cloud, and thus allowing those who could or needed to work from home to do so. This option was originally intended to allow us to recruit and to work with people living outside the Paris region, which we felt was possible with the right organization and the appropriate technical and software environment. We had set ourselves a deadline of 6 months to be able to offer this option to some of our current and future employees.
“The first analysis phase had barely ended when we had to shut down Quantic Dream, practically overnight, and enable the majority of our employees to work from home.”
The first analysis phase had barely ended when we had to shut down Quantic Dream, practically overnight, and enable the majority of our employees to work from home. And so we raced against time to adapt and find technical and human solutions to cope with this sudden change.
For the first few days, we focused on technical aspects. This meant analyzing what each person needed immediately in order to work from home, getting additional licenses for specialized software for others and monitoring the impact of the massive flow of incoming and outgoing data on our bandwidth to avoid an overload or collapse. We had produced theoretical calculations, of course, but we had no detailed knowledge about peaks in data transfer and connection, or how our internal systems would react. Nor did we know how the telecoms operators and various ISP’s our employees would use to connect to the Internet would manage the situation.
In the end, the result was much better than we had initially anticipated. Other than a small group of people for whom we have as yet not found an appropriate technical solution – although we are still working on it – the rest of the team has been able to work remotely in acceptable to very good conditions, depending on the quality of their Internet connection and the specifics of their role. We are currently working to resolve the problems of anyone who is still struggling and, of course, to allow everyone to work from home just as soon as possible – the latter being our most pressing concern at present.
“We are currently working to resolve the problems of anyone who is still struggling and, of course, to allow everyone to work from home just as soon as possible – the latter being our most pressing concern at present.
However, we realized very quickly that while the technical aspects were important, what was vital was good management of the human factor; we needed to keep in touch with all the studio’s employees. We therefore set up a weekly newsletter to update the teams on the progress of the studio’s various departments to let them know what others were doing. We created a daily Quantic Briefing to report how on our organization is adapting to the epidemic, and also to promote certain initiatives or quite simply to share practical information which has nothing to do with work.
We also scheduled virtual coffee breaks – times for chatting about things unrelated to work – so that people can meet in random groups to “shoot the breeze”, just as we often do in our relaxation space or around the coffee machine.
We conducted an anonymous survey after 2 weeks of lockdown, to find out more about employees’ living and working conditions. Some are alone and others have their children with them – and children of course demand time and attention; every situation is different and requires individual attention. We are endeavoring to resolve some difficulties, for example, by adapting working hours or the timetabling and duration of meetings.
Some of our people have themselves been affected or had family members affected by Covid-19, and we try to offer them comfort and a sympathetic ear.
There’s still some way to go, but we are doing our utmost to help each individual overcome this unprecedented challenge as well as possible, in the hope that we will be reunited in good health as soon as possible. Collectively, we will emerge stronger for having come through this unprecedented health crisis together.