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Homeworld Devs Switch to 4-day Work Week

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video games
February 11, 2022, 11:15 am


author: Adrian Werner

The studio responsible for Homeworld 3, Blackbird Interactive, has followed in the footsteps of Eidos Montreal and switched to a 4-day workweek.


Known from Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, Hardspace: Shipbreaker and the upcoming home world 3studio Blackbird Interactive has switched all of its teams to a four-day work week. Previously, Eidos Montreal, the creators of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxydecided to do the same.

What led to this decision?

The reason was the progressive burnout of many studio employees. It was especially visible in the team dealing with Hardspace: Shipbreaker, which has been working on this project for six years. Additionally, supporting the game in early access proved to be more stressful than expected.

The change is also supposed to be beneficial for the company itself. Blackbird Interactive is an independent studio and retaining the most talented employees was becoming increasingly difficult as the competition in the market is brutal and the whole industry is consolidating.

More for you:

  1. Spiral of Crunch – Do Games Have to Be Created at the Expense of Employees?

The switch was preceded by a successful trial period

This is not a hasty decision. Last September, the company conducted a survey in which developers gave their opinion on the idea. Not everyone was convinced it was a good move. They feared that it would force an even stronger crunch just before the release or hurt the projects on the final stretch.

That’s why first – as a test from September 20 to December 10, 2021 – only two of the studio’s six teams were switched to a 4-day work week:

  1. The group dealing with Hardspace: Shipbreaker,
  2. The team working on an unannounced roguelike with card game elements, provisionally named owl.

These two teams were chosen because they were completely different, which increased the value of the conclusions reached during the trial. Hardspace: Shipbreaker is already in the final stages of development, while owl is still in pre-production.

The test was a success. The well-being of the developers clearly improved, and after the adaptation period, the pace of work did not slow down at all. The switch forced the managers to manage the employees’ time much better. For example, daily, hour-long meetings, which all team members had to attend, were abandoned. They were replaced with 10-minute meetings, which are attended only by those people whose presence is necessary.

Moreover, despite the concerns, cutting a day out of the week did not necessitate a crunch in the final straight of work on Hardspace: Shipbreaker.

The developers’ reactions were very positive

After the trial period, a survey was conducted among the members of both teams. The results were as follows:

  1. 100% of developers prefer the 4-day work week (before the test, 18% thought it was a bad idea).
  2. 91% said that the change helped them to achieve a better work-life balance.
  3. 90% believe the change will help keep employees at the company.
  4. 79% said they found it easier to finish assigned tasks under the new model.

Not all developers stuck to the designated work hours

It was intended that developers would only work 32 hours per week, but not everyone stuck to that limit.

Working hours per week:

Percentage of employees (in the last four weeks of the test):

32 hours

29%

32-36 hours

47%

36-40 hours

12%

More than 40 hours

12%

Those who worked more than 40 hours were mainly developers managing smaller teams. Some of them came to work up to five days a week, mainly to better plan their subordinates’ schedules and thus make it easier for them to stick to a 4-day work week.

The studio’s management is not happy about this and is looking for ways to improve the situation so that even team managers can come to work only four days a week.

  1. Blackbird Interactive – official website
  2. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak review – a galaxy’s worth of sand
  3. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak – game guide
  4. Homeworld: DoK – More Maps

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