One Year Working from Home: How we’ve helped our team, connect, unwind, and recharge

Exactly a year ago today, we FIRED UP our home workstationS for what we thought would be 2 weeks, a month tops.

How little we knew about that lied ahead. Time flies when you’re adjusting to a whole new world.

Over the past 12 months we’ve had to rethink and reinvent what it means to be a team and how we would continue to deliver an exceptional work environment.

You’ll never hear us say that we don’t miss Friday happy hour at the Studio (that would be a bold face lie!), but we’re pretty proud of everything we’ve put in place to keep the Square Enix Montréal team connected and feeling supported while we work from home.

You had me at onboarding

Starting a new job can be nerve-frazzling. Going through the process alone and remotely adds to the pressure.

To help new arrivals feel like part of the team from day one (because they are!), we make sure to plan a remote lunch with their closest collaborators (lunch coupon is on the house), and send a box filled with swag directly to their doorstep!

Flexibility doesn’t mean touching your toes

If there’s one thing we learned this year is that we needed to be more sensitive than ever to the individual needs our people. Now that home life and work life are completely intertwined, we need to support our staff in an entirely different way,

From the get-go, we instituted a flexible work time policy. This policy allows everyone who needs it to work atypical hours and fulfill their personal and family obligations.

Stay connected, on the house

We’ve never been more dependent on our internet connections. A 10-second lag feels like a lifetime of eternities when youre only connections to your colleagues are happening online.

To make internet cost one less thing to worry about, we refund a portion of monthly bills or the total cost for employees who choose to use the Square Enix Montréal internet account. A win-win either way!

Mental health support

After « you’re on mute », « these are challenging times” are probably the most oft-repeated words of the past 12 months.

It’s become a cliché because it’s true.

To help those among us who are having a hard time or just need a safe space to talk, we’ve doubled the reimbursable amount for mental health expenses.

We also give every employee free access to an online assistance program and telemedicine service. Free. 24/7.

Did I hear you say activity?

Virtual reality parties. Bingo nights. Movie clubs. Remote Christmas lunch. You name it, we’ve organized it!

To keep our team inspired, connected, and motivated during lockdown, we’re constantly planning activities.

Only in the past month, we’ve filled their calendars with a Lunch & Learn on systemic racism, a crepe making workshop (yumm!) and a personal finance webinar.

And 1 and 2 and 3!

Let’s be honest, being in lockdown hasn’t done wonders for our physical health (desk, fridge, couch. Rinse, repeat.)

To get everyone moving between conference calls, we give them access to a full virtual program including Hiit, stretching, pilates, and yoga classes.

For those yearning for a little Zen, we also include guided mediation lessons. Namaste!

Just another magic Monday

Living through lockdown is tough. Every little task can feel insurmountable. Family pressures add up (homeschooling FTW!)

To give everyone a well-deserved breather, we are offering all employees every second Monday off from January 25 to March 22 (the warm -well warmish, we are in Montreal after all- days of Spring will raise everyone’s spirits!)

Oh, you shouldn’t have!

If there was an Olympic medal for box packing, wrapping, and shipping, we’re pretty sure we’d at least get silver (and we’re just saying that because we’re humble.)

Over the past 12 months we’ve shipped to our employees’ homes more boxes that we care to count.

We’ve delivered Halloween candy for safe at-home trick-or-treating, local delicacies to support local businesses (maple syrup and fresh coffee, yes please!), Christmas gifts, and branded goodies galore.

(And that’s not counting birthday presents and baby shower surprises!)

It’s not because we are not working under the same roof that we can’t make everyone feel special from afar.

Going forward, we will benefit from what the past year has taught us: we don’t need to work at the Studio to work as a team and we will never go wrong by (over)caring for each other.