By and large, the games industry's been having a tough ol' time adjusting to life under the Covid-19 pandemic. But shifting to remote work hasn't come without its upsides. Now, Japanese publisher Square Enix has announced that it plans to let employees work from home as a permanent option.
Now, the coronavirus pandemic has done a number on the games biz, with a third of developers reporting the outbreak had delayed their games back in summer. As expected, many (including Square Enix) chose to ditch offices in favour of living rooms. We saw Bungie roll out "developer-grade" laptops to keep Destiny 2's plans on track—but even with high-end gear at home, everyone from Blizzard to Failbetter had to come to terms with the strange new normal of developing games from their living rooms.
But adjusting to remote work didn't come without upsides, and some are now considering keeping these measures running permanently. Speaking in an extremely corporate announcement post, Square Enix notes that this whole remote work lark may do more than than just keep employees from getting sick—and that starting December 1st, folks will be able to choose where they wish to work.
"Rather than utilizing work from home solely as a means of preventing infections during the current pandemic, the Company will establish it as a permanent and core program among the working styles it accommodates. In so doing, the Company hopes not only to create a flexible and diverse working environment, but also to further bolster productivity and help employees achieve the optimal work-life balance."
That doesn't mean that the Squenix office will be left completely vacant, mind. Staff will be assigned as "home-based" or "office-based", with the expectation that this may change from month to month. For practical or security reasons, some work will still need to be done on-site. Even so, the publisher reckons about 80% of staff will be working remotely during the program's first month.
Square Enix isn't alone, either. Back in October, Microsoft similarly announced that it was rethinking how it approached workspaces, noting that remote work should now be considered a new standard for most roles.
Working from home ain't for everyone, mind. My partner and I both hate it, for what it's worth. But it's good to see development open up in this way, a move towards accessibility for people who, for whatever reason, would rather not commute into a busy office five days a week.
Who knows. Someone may be cobbling together Final Fantasy 16's most emotionally gut-wrenching moment from their bedroom as we speak.