Solitaire Bliss

How We Went Remote And Improved Productivity

By Neal - 01/14/2022

At Solitaire Bliss, we have been working remotely for a little over three years now. Since 2019, we have been a distributed team, and the benefits far outweigh the challenges for us. Today, we strongly believe in the efficiency of a remote team, especially one that is well-trained and self-managed.

Getting to the point where we were a highly functioning remote team did not come over night. Rather, it took us time, and we certainly had our fair share of mishaps.

That's why we wanted to share our experience and the lessons we learned on improving productivity with our remote team.

Measuring productivity is a must

When we first decided to move to a remote office setup, we faced a unique challenge. Most of our games were built by teams located in the same place. Moving to a remote set up, we had to take into consideration how individuals were working, including how they communicated. More importantly, we had to understand and measure how our new set up would impact productivity.

For our marketing team, this was a straightforward task - we looked at improvements in the number of pieces of content published per week. To our surprise, their velocity increased and they were producing more marketing collateral than ever.

For our gaming team, we decided to focus on measuring the amount of code written per week by each member of the team. At first, we noticed a dip in code commits, but after putting new communication policies in place and providing more autonomy, our engineering became more productive as a remote team. Now we’re creating more than one new solitaire game a month.

At the end of each quarter, we held surveys to measure engagement and product satisfaction. These surveys were then reviewed by our leadership team. We also kept track of how many times employees would come to us with questions about their tasks for a sprint, as that indicates a need for better communication.

In our most recent survey, compared to last year, we found that we improved developer velocity by 12% and overall employee engagement by 26%.

Here’s what we did to ensure that our team remained productive as a remote one:

Create smaller milestones

We created milestones for each task assigned to our employees. We broke down longer tasks into smaller chunks that could be completed in a week or less. This allowed us to collect data about project progress and make adjustments more quickly than if we had waited until the end of a project. Moreover, this helped to keep everyone aligned and agile, which is especially important when you’re a remote gaming business.

Be transparent

We've found that transparency fosters a sense of connectedness and understanding within our team. It lays the foundation for building authentic relationships and open exchange of ideas. By sending daily email updates across teams, we made sure everyone was up to speed on how we were navigating our gaming roadmap and growth.

Offer flexible work windows

Starting the day with the whole team in a room made sense, but we obviously couldn't do this as a remote team. We realized that we needed something that worked for the various needs of our team, and introduced flex windows. We asked our team to be available anytime between 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm so we could consistently find times to connect with our teammates. Outside of those times, they can work whenever they wish.

Get the right tools

Remote teams can function successfully when you have a good working relationship and the right tools (modern technology like JIRA, Trello, or Asana) at hand to help make sure everyone is on the same page. By centering all our work around Jira as a knowledge base and a project management tool, our team was able to communicate, track, and measure progress. We didn't miss a beat as a result.

Improving productivity doesn't have to be a costly

The goal should be to find simple ways to stay in contact and support your team from afar. Ask your team what can get better and continue to iterate, like we did. By adhering to this philosophy, you'll find that you can build trust as well as a productive team without breaking the bank.

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