Remote working: Ensuring performance in pyjamas


By Cordelia Morgan-Cooper

Remote working is a fiercely debated subject which has quickly become a largely divisive issue in the igaming industry. Cordelia Morgan-Cooper explores the situation as some companies are looking to do a U-turn on working from home.

Since Covid 19 took its hold over the global economy, igaming businesses (and indeed most businesses that were able to offer an out-of-office alternative) were forced to send the majority of their workforce home, ensuring that they could still remain operational. As a result, companies had to become more flexible to adapt to the changing circumstances.

What I don't think most people envisaged (and I include myself in this) was that working from home would become normal ‘life’ and an essential part of working life to many. Like most people, until Covid, I had worked very occasionally from home. The odd instance was if someone needed to come to the house or maybe a doctor's appointment mid-morning so I would start from home. Until this point, I had never imagined the prospect of working full-time from home. It seemed daunting when we packed up our work bags at Catena Media and said goodbye to our colleagues who we had worked with almost every day without fail in person.

Of course, working remotely had its challenges to begin with. Setting up Zoom meetings to continue our projects meant that things took longer than anticipated and we had to learn as a team how to continue being effective. Distractions also meant that we needed to create a different workflow, but this was different for everyone based on home situations and remote work setup.

There have also been several igaming businesses making a U-turn on remote working and hybrid setups

Fast forward two years and remote working has become a way of life for many, a way to be able to create a flexible work environment and also to support employees with a better work-life balance. This needs parameters of course; a workforce needs to be able to handle this way of working but the business needs to be ready to ensure that accountability and trust are core values.

What we have seen over the past 12 months is that the remote work topic continues to be a contentious point for discussion. There have also been several igaming businesses making a U-turn on remote working and hybrid setups. Let’s investigate the reasons why.

Productivity beyond borders

One of the key benefits for any gaming business working remotely is having the

ability to break down geographical barriers, allowing companies to tap into a diverse pool of talent. We saw businesses grow entire teams (especially tech) in places that previously were not possible. This enabled internal talent teams to find cost-effective solutions to hiring (at least initially).

The talent conundrum

While the virtual landscape offers a broad talent pool, the igaming industry is not immune to talent shortages. The demand for skilled professionals (within tech most commonly) often outpaces the supply, leading to fierce competition among companies seeking to secure top-tier talent.

The broader business landscape echoes this challenge, with many companies adopting creative strategies to attract and retain talent. Remote work, with its emphasis on work-life balance, has become a key selling point for organisations.

Cultivating work culture in a digital domain

Maintaining a positive work culture in a remote setting poses its own set of challenges. The igaming industry, known for its dynamic and collaborative ethos, has had to rethink traditional approaches to foster a sense of community among its dispersed workforce.

Leaders are encouraged to prioritise regular communication, promote transparency, and create platforms for employees to share their experiences and feedback

In response to this challenge, most remote first businesses have worked hard to implement virtual team-building activities and host regular online social events. These initiatives not only strengthen team bonds but also contribute to a positive and inclusive work culture. Further to this, companies have had to embrace flexible work hours and recognise the importance of accommodating different time zones and personal preferences. Leaders are encouraged to prioritise regular communication, promote transparency, and create platforms for employees to share their experiences and feedback.

Ensuring performance beyond pyjamas

Yes, the ‘anti remoters’ will have you thinking that your teams will be sitting in their pyjamas, taking endless breaks and not working effectively but is this really the case?

This is an argument that comes up frequently with CMC Consultings’ HR clients. Remote working doesn’t suit everyone. 

Are there distractions when you are at home? Yes, there can be a lot of them! Working day structure? Probably a mess initially! Teammates not online when they are ‘meant’ to be? Yes, it will happen! These things need to be considered and taken on board by senior leadership teams when making their decision on remote working because teams also have to be supported for remote working to fully work!

The lack of face-to-face interaction and spontaneous collaboration can sometimes hinder communication flow

There are a number of ways to empower teams to be able to work successfully remotely. Regular team meetings will need to happen to encourage collaboration, and company-wide communication will also need to be improved to prevent information from becoming siloed. Internal communication tools will need to be a focus be it Slack or Microsoft Teams, it doesn’t matter, just make sure everyone uses it. 

Making time to help teams grow is also crucial. Virtual team building is great but in-person events really help teams to thrive and prevent some of the loneliness that can be associated with working from home 24/7.

However, it's essential to acknowledge the potential pitfalls of remote work on productivity. The lack of face-to-face interaction and spontaneous collaboration can sometimes hinder communication flow. To counteract this, businesses are investing in virtual collaboration tools, ensuring connectivity and maintaining a sense of camaraderie among team members.

Unfortunately, without changes being made to working setups, employees cannot be expected to flourish. We have seen the knee-jerk reaction to productivity recently with several businesses in Malta bringing their teams back to the office. I can’t help but feel this is a lazy way of management. If you can physically see your team then they must be working. This isn’t a given rule.

Junction of comfort and productivity

For businesses to thrive in the current landscape, igaming companies need to consider a more flexible ‘pick and mix’ approach where employees are given choices. This can come down to benefits as well but it's more about the flexibility that can be offered to employees. For teams where creativity is crucial the sweet spot seems to be more of a hybrid approach - a workspace where employees can gather with a set number of days a week where everyone is in the office. 

As we wrap up our discussion on remote work, we stand at the junction of comfort and productivity. Whilst the charm of flexibility paired with a greatly improved work-life balance, the ongoing debate on performance continues. If I can ask one thing let's embrace the evolving world of remote work a dance between flexibility and efficiency that keeps all of us on our toes!


Cordelia Morgan-Cooper

has over a decade of international HR and recruitment experience. She has developed a passion for driving happiness, wellbeing and success in the workplace, having seen first-hand the impact of an engaged workforce when it comes to both recruitment and employee retention.

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