‘We will never be the same’: Cryptic is adopting a permanent work-from-home policy

The office will stay open, but devs don't have to return post-pandemic

    
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A lot of gaming companies, including MMO companies, shifted to working from home when the COVID pandemic began in earnest last year. And one of the “silver linings” of the pandemic was supposed to be making work-from-home more acceptable than ever – that maybe offices would become all but moot. Not a lot of mid-size-and-up gaming companies have seized that yet, but Cryptic is going for it.

Last night, Star Trek Online’s Al Rivera explained that the last year has taught the studio, which also operates Neverwinter, Champions Online, and Magic Legends, that going office-optional is a path it wants to take, even when the pandemic is over.

“As we move forward, Cryptic has decided that we will be adopting a permanent work from home policy,” he tweeted. “We will maintain our office, and we will eventually open our doors once again. Some will return but many have chosen to continue to work from home partly or fully forever.”

“We will never be the same. Many companies are realizing this and embracing this new format. A video games company being productive while 100% remote was once considered impossible. I thought that myself a year ago. But we have proven it is not only possible, it is effective. Pandemic aside, working from home has been very effective for most. Lack of human contact is a real issue, but we have learned that working from home has a lot of real benefits. Most of the team enjoys the freedoms it brings. But there is certainly down sides. Not the least of which is not seeing our coworkers. Our team will never be the same. There are many people I may never see in person again and I never got to say goodbye. There is a real mourning associated with this. The complete ramifications is still unknown.”

The whole thread is quite a bit longer as Rivera also discusses how Cryptic made the transition and how the pandemic has affected him personally, as well as thanks STO players for their support.

Source: Twitter. Cheers, Stormwaltz!
Afternoon update
MOP reader GrandNagus pointed us to the STO subreddit, where this afternoon one Cryptic developer has posted more about the decision that suggests the studio was extremely anti-work-from-home prior to the pandemic, largely for security reasons. Jesse “Trekhead” Heinig writes, “When the pandemic shut us down, we basically had two choices. One, figure out some way to get everyone up and running again ASAP. Two, shut the company into maintenance mode, furlough most of the team, and keep a tiny critical staff to keep the games limping along with no updates until the pandemic ended.” Ultimately, the management went with the first option, and in spite of the challenges, the games and teams were just fine and have shifted into this “new normal.”
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Neurotic

In contrast, it seems as though their engine will always be the same. Long live stop-motion animation!

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Scorp Gang

As a Chef I am Jealous. That, said. I am concerned how WFH will affect Food/Hospitality workers that work inside Company Caferterias. Also, places outside of them like Food Trucks or Stands that rely on you walking out of those buildings because you forgot to eat again:)

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J

Translation: Company not having to pay rent and electric bills is great. Keep your ass at home.

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Loopy

My preferred method is “hybrid”. Basically choose when to WFH and when to be in the office. I have a dedicated office for my work at home with all the tools i need, yet i have a really hard time focusing with many distractions at home. Additionally, i lack that buffer time between work and home where i get to decompress and cleanse my palate before entering my house. I’ve been WFH exclusively for about 5 years now, and i think i had enough of it.

I’m happy to hear that companies are becoming more flexible, that’s for sure. For me, choice is key.

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Sashaa

Working from home is the best work experience I’ve ever had.

And I live in a country where it wasn’t exactly a “thing” before COVID. Now people are seeing it for what it is and it’s slowly changing…

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Does not check email

Medical I.T. Field here and an extremely conservative company and area. Prior to the pandemic a WFH job was less than 1% of our 50,000 employee company /14 hospitals. It was treated with disdain.

Literally overnight 33% of the company went WFH and some infrastructure was built overnight and continues to get added. Employee survey was 97% positive and leadership was replaced by aliens who sing the praises of WFH. An internal study showing prevented infections and $$$ WFH saved is a windfall no one could have predicted or planned prior to pandemic. Our revenue in 2020 was also off by 2/3 at one point and Finance was predicting the worst year since 2009/2010 but things have leveled off.

In the last year a new $20 professional office building being built on paper went to $8 million to cancelled. There is a very good chance up to 40 leased spaces will be eliminated or consolidated down to single digits – 8. All the cleaning staff, infrastructure and other assets will be reclaimed by the organization as leases end/bought out. I can’t fathom that savings but one of those buildings housed 5 floors of workers and now it’s basically a retail sandwich shop on the first floor.

With that said I miss my coworkers but value the lack of travel for now. I have been home while my patient serving colleagues continue their work. My old office in the basement of one of the hospitals is now PPE storage!

I have probably gone into the office 10 times since last year. We were told for 21/22 that there are no plans to return to the office

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Armsman

I work in an IT position that KEEPS all the infrastructure for those in my organization aloowed/able to work from home, up and running – as well as support everyone who still decides to continue to come into the “office” as it were.

So yeah, while they (the organization), ultimately liked the way the whole Work From Home paradigm played out (and we too found by and large people working at home aren’t ‘lazy’ or take undue breaks/advantage); with the position I’m in at said organization — I’ll never be eligible to actually DO work from home as I need to be where the hardware is when you CAN’T remote into something…

[And I will say it irks me a bit when everyone lauds the contributions of first responders, grocery and restaurant workers, etc. <– And they deserve it – but no one really mentions us IT folks in the trenches AT VARIIOUS SITES and still having to interact in person with a lot of outside contractors, etc. to KEEP everything going that allows for the new 'work from home' culture. And no it's not just 'flipping a switch once in a while' to keep this stuff going'. IT workers do IMO deserve the occasional mention too, but I never hear/see it.]

/venting over :)

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I mean, not to be a jerk, but at least you have jobs and incomes.

I’ve been unable to work most of my life, and the few jobs I did manage had issues that limited me.

Working from home would’ve been great for me because I can’t stand for hours and have to sit most of my life away (born with club feet so standing for more than half hour/hour leads to excruciating pain that travels up my spine making me irritable/prone to lash out), I can’t deal with people (Social phobia/Anxiety issue…which basically means phones are a no-go also.), partially blind and deaf, I can’t maintain a schedule…because of insomnia/inability to sleep (I was just diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and went from normally sleeping 2-4-6 hours to sleeping 9-12 hours in stretches). That’s not even counting all the other health issues/mental issues (Abused as a child, diagnosed PTSD, and lots of other things).

It’s OK to gripe about things, but remember, there’s worse in life.

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Bruno Brito

Do you have an artistic outlet? A friend of mine is a disabled artist and she gets a lot of good commissions. Her art is out of this world.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

My artistic chops are pretty non-existent. I have crud for manual dexterity IRL (Did job testing, they said don’t work in a factory), and dysgraphia – my hands shake when I try to write/draw…probably a disconnect somewhere in my brain…either from the encephalitis I had as a child as a side effect of chicken pox, or from when my mother ‘accidentally’ dropped me backwards off a rocking chair (She claims I was rocking back and forth so much I threw myself up and over her arm and off.) and split my skull open as a toddler…which I still have a dent in the back of my skull from.

I always had trouble translating my imagination into form. Though with ‘perspective’ art, I tended to make some really good stuff with the help of a ruler to steady the lines as I have high spatial aptitude. But I haven’t touched that kind of stuff for years.

I can use in-game builder systems to make things (Have used them to make many a ‘home’ in-game…I actually ‘documented’ my Rift dimension and my Wurm housing on FB, but nobody but me and ‘family’ is on there.) and would’ve loved to go into world building for computer design, but I could never get into any classes out here (I live in a US state where ‘computer class’ used to consist of teaching people to type mainly/use the web.). I tried to move to another area to get some classes from a place I saw online, but my uncle-in-law talked me out of it telling me I’d end up with a very specific degree and a huge load of debt and probably no way to pay it off. Ended up losing my housing out there through the illegal actions (One week to get out, which is against the law, even for evictions, which I wasn’t under. Due to nonsense they pulled with my Section 8 Housing assistance people and them saying I couldn’t sign another lease.) of my landlord and being forced to move back here where I’ve always felt trapped.

Games are basically my ‘outlet’. Used to be able to meet people online in chat rooms, but I don’t know where people hang out nowadays/how to talk to them. I tried figuring Discord out (Trying to find a way to join a DnD group) and any time I tried typing anything on there, it gave me a weird message saying my stuff wasn’t going through for some reason, and I’ve got nobody left to ask to figure it out with. My headphone’s mic’s busted too, so I can’t ask in some open channel either.

I mean, my life story is a tale of woe, so -shrugs- I know it’s too much for people, so I just keep to myself now.

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jealouspirate

My field (medical professional) doesn’t allow me to work from home, but I’m jealous of people who can. My brother is a software engineer and started working from home during the pandemic. It’s great. Can roughly make your own schedule, no commute, live anywhere, tax benefits, etc. I would absolutely work from home if I could. It would certainly cut down on the amount of hand sanitizer I use!

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STOGrandNagus

You might want to considering adding this dev post/response to your article. Lots of good details and info.

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Stormwaltz

“Management found that (to the surprise of those who thought folks would just be lazy) people still needed things to do to keep them busy, to feel like they were contributing somehow or doing something productive during the pandemic…”

People “rediscover” this every few years in the Universal Basic Income debate. Every single time, those opposed claim it will make people “lazy.” Every single time, the numbers conclusively prove them wrong.

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Schmidt.Capela

If I remember correctly, Universal Basic Income tests showed it tends to result in more economical activity due to more widespread entrepreneurship, because people feel safer in starting new businesses knowing that even if they fail they can still afford to eat.

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Bruno Brito

It’s a proposal only one of Brazil’s presidential candidates have.

Man, did the “chicago school” permanently damaged us.