In the early days of the pandemic for this province, lots of businesses sent their employees home to work from there. The industry I work in did the same for the most part. Many studios shifted to develop games from home as best they could.
As the months wore on and as it seemed like things were under control, some businesses allowed their employees to return to work, at least in limited numbers. Now, we have a less an than ideal situation. In British Columbia, each day seems to bring a new record of caseload numbers. More people are back to work and out and about, while there are more sick people out there than before. That doesn’t seem like a great combination.
Meanwhile, I’ve heard that several studios have allowed some employees to return to work in “limited” numbers. I can’t say what strategies each studio has adopted to keep their developers safe while in the studio. I only know of my own studio, which seems to have taken it very seriously. Are other studios big enough to keep their returning employees a safe distance apart? Do they enforced a mask policy while inside their studio? Is there a limit to the number of people that can be inside at one time? I don’t know the answers to these questions for the studios in town.
What I do know is that at another video game development studio in Vancouver, who I will not name, an employee that didn’t want to or couldn’t work from home any more, went into their studio while they were carrying the COVID-19 virus. This employee caught the virus from their partner and then went to work, not knowing they were infected.
This individual was tested and the test came back positive. I’m also been told this person is actually ill and suffering from the effects of the virus. I don’t know the whole details but it appears that while they are ill, they currently do not require hospitalization.
I do not know how many other employees this person came in contact with while they were still working while infected. This will be a great test for this studio’s policies and if these employees took them seriously. As it stands, I’ve been told the studio has now been shut down for a period of time so that it can be sanitized. I hope that the other employees that were going in are now self-isolating. To not do so would be outrageous and irresponsible. I do not know if there is a plan for the studio to be opened up for people to return to work if they want to.
I’ve relayed this news to a few other developers I know and all of them were quite surprised that people were willing to take a risk to return to work. I’ve heard a lot of reasons why people don’t want to work from home anymore. They range from children distracting them to not having easy access to equipment they need for their roles. Yeah sure, I get it, those things don’t make it easy to work from home. If you decide to go back into the studio though, you have to understand the risks that involved, especially the risk during these times of increased and record positive tests. No one wants to infect their co-workers but the harsh reality is that might have happened here. Was it worth it to return to work to have this happen? The math doesn’t add up to me or for the other people I’ve talked to.
I understand I don’t know everyone’s situation but someone once told me that making games isn’t curing cancer and that I should have some perspective on the things we do for our jobs. I’ll continue to work from home to keep myself and others safe.