I’d like to consider myself a veteran of working from home as a game developer. The first time I’ve experimented with it was in 2004 with Cyber Ninja, and, over the years, I’ve worked from home as a solo, as part of small indie teams or part of companies. In fact, all the games on this site have been developed like so.
I have recently read various articles that point toward a drop in productivity during the pandemic WFH and scared managers are urging for people to return to a physical work-place after lockdowns end. But I think it’s wrong.
The problem is not working from home, by itself, is less productive than working in an office. I have experienced both for the same company (started out working in an office, then moved remote) and I can honestly say there hasn’t been any difference for me (but I acknowlegde that every person is different).
The problem is the lockdown, in particular, the aggresive forms of lockdowns that forbid any forms of socialization. I must admit that I’m not the most sociable person and, for many years, after a hard day at work, I preferred to relax by pulling either the guitar or the bass and jamming or practicing a little. However, I’m a big live music consumer and attended lots of live gigs and this was a way of both letting some steam off or socializing.
In the recent years, I have discovered swing dancing and put a lot of time into it. Practicing in the local groups, travelling abroad for festivals, social dancing to live bands a couple of times a week really helped cope up with the stresss and burnout building up from the game dev activities. Also made lots of dancing friends and musician friends along the way, which was only a plus.
But, in the past months, these socializing activities have all been cancelled, with little to no hope of returning. And I must admit that it had an impact my productivity.
In the beginning of the year, I had a big game dev plans for 2020 but now I realize that, as the year approaches the end, I’m only in the middle of the 4th out of 12 games that I planned for. Some unexpected contracting work crept up in between, that took some time to complete, but mostly I can say that lack of socializing due to quarantine hurt more than I’ve expected.
If you’re a software dev facing the same issues, know that you’re not alone. If you’re a manager obsessed with productivity metrics, factor in isolation into your metrics.