Part 1: How the Octalysis Group succeeds in working across the world
Virtually Happy Ever After
The Octalysis Group prides itself on being a fully virtual workplace. We have no office. No physical place where my colleagues and I meet. The internet is our office park. Zoom is our office space. And we love it!
Well, it seems we are not alone, but part of a wider global push for remote working happiness. Surprised? Wondering how a successful outfit like TOG can work completely virtually and remotely? Find out more below!
The numbers are rising
In 2004, an estimated 2 million people were either full- or part-time remote workers in the UK alone. In 2015, the Office for National Statistics suggested that there were 4.2 million full-time remote workers in the UK: more than 15% of the UK population. And the numbers are rising. Some research seems to suggest that half the UK working population will work at least part remotely by 2020.
The growth of the IT Sector and the number of startups stand in direct relation to remote work, as they use remote work as a competitive advantage to enhance flexibility, save costs, hire better and diversified talent from a global workforce pool and increase productivity.
It is said that working remotely increases productivity and well-being, but are these claims really true? And is it really that realistic to keep employees motivated and happy long-term?
As the Octalysis Group, we are a fully remote company working across 6 continents and running successfully since years. Therefore, we’re in a good spot to talk to you about what we’ve learned so far.
In the next two articles, we will look into the pros and cons of remote work and give you tips on how the Octalysis Framework can help you increasing long-term motivation and well-being of your employees.
Part 1 will give you an overview about how Octalysis uses Remote Work successfully, while Part 2 will focus on actionable challenges and quests you can implement within your company to increase the well-being and therefore productivity of your employees. Last but not least, Part 3 will be an interview, where Octalysis Group Managing Director Joris Beerda will give you deep insights into the magic of our group spirit.
GAME OVER? Cons of remote work
Are companies failing to implement remote work? And if so, why?
According to research, telecommuting craves your company. In Octalysis terms, Core Drive 5 – Social Influence and Relatedness is lacking. Some would even go so far and say it increases the risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression due to factors like isolation, financial insecurity, inactivity, uninspiring surroundings, bad air quality, burnout, and excessive computer work. Additionally, badly executed remote work can be a source of dissatisfaction and regret, due to the lack of structure, routines, and guidelines in combination with too much choice.
GAME ON! Pros of remote work
On the other side, employees are enabled to customize their work environment and their daily schedule by themselves while avoiding long commutes and stressful workplaces. This focus on Core Drive 3 – Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback creates a significant bonus, especially looking at the increasing demands of autonomy in the workspace, particularly from Millennials and upcoming generations.
Further, due to the global focus, companies are able to recruit the best people available not just in their country, but in the world. Who would say no to accessing a scarce talent pool across the globe?
Why did we choose Remote Work at the Octalysis Group
The Octalysis Group has been working remotely from the very early beginnings of the company. The ease of creating a virtual company is one of the obvious reasons that so many startups decide to set up their company purely online-based. When Yu-kai Chou and Joris Beerda established the Octalysis Group, Yu-kai was in California and Joris was in Bali. It was de facto virtual from the beginning because there was no need for a physical office.
This also opened up the advantage of being able to work for clients and employees all around the world without the costs and administration involved of opening up an office in that country.
Playing the Octalysis GAME – Obstacles and what others can learn from our experience
Learning No.1: Aren’t we all Social Loners?
We might play with a well-known cliché of your typical gamer, but at The Octalysis Group, we like to call ourselves social loners. Most people in our team don’t mind actually being alone, but at the same time, we really like socializing a lot …mostly virtually.
We’re already used to communicating a lot online, be it through Games or Social Media, so we never had the need for a physical space to have good conversations with each other. Although if we meet, it feels like a family gathering – a positive familial one, not one of those “oh no I need to see auntie Sarah please hide me” ones (nothing against you auntie Sarah). We have specific times dedicated to spending time together outside of “work”, be it the Book Club where we discuss research in Behavioural Science and best practices in Game Design and Gamification or at our weekly Game Jam, where we play games together.
In a research conducted with 25 participants from over 13 countries, we can determine that remote workers all around the world experience similar challenges when it comes to their well-being and overall happiness. Although they feel like their life has been filled with things that interest them, they struggle with loneliness and seek social contact.
Creating a social network, transparent communication, and a meaningful work environment, as practiced by The Octalysis Group, will strengthen Core Drive 5 – Social Influence and Relatedness as well as Core Drive 1 – Epic Meaning and Calling.
As our office isn’t physically accessible, we have created a Virtual Playground. We have created a Slack chatroom as our office, use Zoom as our meeting room, play Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft and improve our geographical knowledge with GeoGuesser. With new innovations like Rec Room, we even dive into Virtual Reality to go bowling, shoot bows and arrows or have a romantic rooftop dinner in Paris. By implementing opportunities for everyone to interact with each other, we were able to increase our social capital (Core Drive 5 – Social Influence and Relatedness).
People are often asking for more physical meetings, therefore we’ve created the Annual Retreat, an event where everyone at the Octalysis Group comes together for a few days to talk about strategies and goals, where we play, explore, eat, drink, talk, work and have fun together as a team. Last year we visited South Korea where we explored Lotte World in Seoul, fought VR Zombies, played board games, and went to the League of Legends World Championships in Busan.
The year beforehand we visited the Gamescom in Cologne to immerse ourselves with the newest gaming trends. This is always a special moment, as some of the people have worked together for years but never met in person. It’s like you can finally meet a long lost friend. The interesting thing is that I’ve personally never experienced such a great culture when it comes to teamwork and the feeling of being responsible for the growth of the company and its members.
Work wherever you want:
Because we all have similar interests and the setup and culture of the company allows it, we even create individual Work Holidays where we get together and work from a remote location for a few weeks. This led us to run a workshop in Thailand and spend a week working on the beautiful island of Phuket as well as a trip to Cyprus where we went from focused work to exploring the crystal clear waters of the mediterranean sea.
Obviously, the best thing about remote working is that you can work wherever you want. In Octalysis terms, Core Drive 3 – Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback creates intrinsic, long-term motivation. You can just plug your laptop and you’re working. This brings a lot of freedom, but also a lot of responsibility, and that’s where our DNA comes into place to create the right culture that inspires to work hard but also makes sure everyone feels good.
Learning Nr.2: The Octalysis DNA that connects us all
Creating a gameful, fun-loving culture for serious work is one of our main goals at the Octalysis Group. We live like RPG characters, always getting more experience, leveling up, distributing skill points, building strong teams, and completing cool missions. The only difference is, this is real, and what you do will impact society, as well as build authentic and meaningful relationships with others.
To reach this, there’s a certain DNA that is shared among members of the Octalysis Group that bonds us together.
We all strive for a positive attitude, try to show self-motivation, trust each other, show respect, be curious and allow a little bit of goofiness, to name a few.
Most importantly, we’ve created a work environment that motivates us through Core Drive 1 – Epic Meaning and Calling, that makes us feel part of something bigger than ourselves as well as Core Drive 5 – Social Influence and Relatedness, which inspires us based on the positive actions of others.
Learning Nr.3: Procrastination and how to fight it with Octalysis
As a remote worker, procrastination is a reminder that we also need to implement some Black Hat Gamification that creates the urgency to finish tasks as well as the usage of Core Drive 2 – Development and Accomplishment to show progress and reward finalized goals.
At the Octalysis Group, we work with software like Trello to help us plan our responsibilities and show our progress (Core Drive 2 – Development and Accomplishment) as well as set deadlines and countdown timers (Core Drive 8 – Loss and Avoidance). It’s important to create small, reachable goals to avoid Anti Core Drive 8 – why users do not want to commit the actions you want them to, that leads to denial and further procrastination.
Having structure, organization, and routines like our Daily Catch-up, Weekly Update, and Learning Meetings helped us to create a frame to enable a productive work environment based on Core Drive 2 – Development and Accomplishment as well as Core Drive 5 – Social Influence and Relatedness. This gives the needed Black Hat push that makes people feel urgency based on their peers great performance, inspiring a similar work attitude.
But this is not enough if you work remotely. Every individual needs to learn how to work best by themselves and create their own strategy. This enables Core Drive 3 – Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback which leads to long-term motivation and sustainable well-being as well as Core Drive 4 – Ownership and Possession.
Octalysis Gamification can help you to create a work environment for remote workers and digital nomads that is engaging long-term and increases your employees well-being and productivity.
Knowing about the Core Drives that motivate people can make the difference between a thriving, inspiring work environment and a workplace that is uninspired and boring.
Interested in building a Dream Team in 10 EASY and FUN steps?
Join us now on our Octalysis Explorers page on Facebook to receive updates on Part 2 of the Series: 10 Gamification Quests to enable Dream Teams with Octalysis!
If you want advice on how to implement remote work in your own company contact me via email@example.com