Jonathan Yarbor, current CEO and a part of the original founding team here at Nodecraft.
This isn't one of the fun blog posts where we get to highlight some of the crazy awesome things our customers or team is building for the future of gaming. That said, it's also not one of doom and gloom: it's a recap of the policies and procedures Nodecraft has taken to ensure our customers are well taken care of and our employees are healthy, safe, and financially stable through it all. Like with any major event, it's how we respond and work together that shapes the difference between panic and preparedness. We always aim to over-prepare in situations like this because the risk of being prepared and wrong is significantly less dangerous than the risk of being unprepared and wrong. Nodecraft has historically always focused on people first policies and that hasn't changed.
Customers can expect ZERO changes due to COVID-19
We'll go into details below on how we're capable of maintaining the quality of support Nodecraft customers have grown to expect. As of the current situation, each of our departments is fully staffed with remote workstations to ensure your game servers stay online no matter where your server is around the world. Our customer support response times and hours expect zero changes due to the extra redundancy already built into our scheduling for all of our employees. Nodecraft prides itself on hiring full-time employees for our CSR (Customer Support Representative) team, which helps us make this transition easy for you, our customers.
That said we are expecting the remote hands in datacenters to have potential delays in the rare events of any hardware-based problems that arise. We are working closely with our partners in the 10+ datacenters around the world to keep everything running smoothly and safely.
Thank you for remaining loyal Nodecraft customers: we love making it so easy to play games with friends and host your own private game servers!
How Nodecraft protects its employees & customers amidst a global pandemic
I first want to stop for a moment and thank the local Oklahoma City business community for rallying together. Without support from key leaders such as Danny Maloney of Tailwind, Erika Lucas of Stitchcrew, and Matthew Williamson of Clevyr we wouldn't have had such a full and appropriate response for our team as early as we did. Thank you.
Nodecraft is already a hybrid-remote company with both local employees in our main headquarters located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and a number of remote employees and founders in distant places such as London and Seattle. With exception to our CSR team, everyone already had the flexibility to work from home during the workweek, before now. After a couple of years of managing remote CSR teams, we've found that it's very challenging to build a cohesive team to work on some of the really stressful and highly technical parts of operating customer support for game servers while building up and encouraging growth for our employees while they are remote.
My plan was to have the entire office remote by the following Monday: March 16, 2020. That meant we needed to ensure everyone at the office was educated on the situation and start the process of sending as many employees to work from home workstations as possible. We kicked off this transition in as early as March 10th, 2020. Each department head sat down with me to make sure that their employees had the workstations to remotely work and the resources to do so safely at home. Many internal policies shifted to begin physical distancing such as strictly hosting online meetings, ceasing our weekly team lunch (for sanitary reasons), and giving folks the ability to control where they work.
Securing the Nodecraft Office
This morning, March 18th, 2020, I set the security code and closed the Nodecraft office for the last time for what we expect to be no less than 4-6 weeks. We had a checklist of things to ensure our environmental footprint was low, but also the office and company were well protected. Any workstations or hard-drives that didn't go home with an employee are headed to secure storage for the next few weeks. We don't plan to be back until it's completely safe for all of our employees.
Nodecraft has gone fully remote
A well-planned office setup gives employees space to focus while inviting collaboration as it's needed. This is the main reason the vast majority of our team members have their own offices with doors they can shut. The teams in our limited open office setup have natural dividers and walls to split them up so that they get no more than 1-2 other employees near them at any given time. It's a setup our team made their own and have thrived in over the better part of the last year when we moved in. It's a part of the vision I've had for Nodecraft since we hired our first employee back in 2014, but now is the time to adapt.
Picking collaborative software to manage a remote team in 2020 can evoke decision paralysis for the uninitiated. However, for our leadership team: Discord was an easy pick. We've been using voice and screen sharing software since co-founder James Ross and myself created Nodecraft, back in the days where Skype was the best choice. The ease of use and direct access to our community makes Discord an obvious and fantastic solution for our team.
Setting up a Discord Server for Remote Work
The goal is to strike a balance between collaboration, presence, and focus between every team and employee while we're fully remote. While you can't get up and walk over to your co-worker's desk or office and see that they are busy or not, we can simulate that in the Nodecraft Discord Server with relative ease. We first set up voice channels for each department or sub-department for each team so they can gather and quickly collaborate as needed. Next, we created a few conference rooms so specific discussions or meetings could take place without interrupting that entire department's voice channel. Last, there is a Flow/Focus channel where mics are muted, but this still tells your fellow co-workers the same thing a shut door gives in a real-life scenario: "I'm here, but busy".
What we've seen is an amazing uptick in remote communication because all of the social uncertainty vanishes for our team. We know our co-workers are here to help, we know if we might be bugging them or not, and can protect our own focus when we need it. If voice channels aren't enough we can screenshare in a Discord Server. Our coders are pair programming via while our art and marketing team is collaborating without skipping a beat.
Thank you Discord for powering our remote team! 💙
Join the Official Nodecraft Discord
We temporarily have our voice channels locked down to protect our staff and their focus, but you can watch to see the collaboration take place. Join the Nodecraft Discord server using the link below!