Today at GDC Europe, Ngmoco's project manager Senta Jakobson explained that while many of the conventions practiced in a traditional work environment are still viable, there are certain subtleties unique to a geographically distributed team.
"What does a typical day look like? Every day, we have a 10 a.m. meeting where we go 'Hey, this is what's happening' and it looks like this -- it's a Google Hangout. Sometimes, there are two people in the office and a bunch of people somewhere else. Sometimes, there's a bunch of other people. It's always a permutation. I don't really know what to expect but I know the team will be there." she said.
"Then, we work and, after that, it looks like work."
Jakobson claimed that she was initially disappointed by the normalcy of things. "It just sort of feels like we work like everyone else except we have a camera and a microphone."
She continued on to explain that working at home causes you to learn the value of your own time. "Eventually, you get into the rhythm and you recognize that your time is valuable in the sense that there's no one watching how long you work for -- they only care that stuff gets done. You are only ever judged on your results. So, if you're going to be sitting in a chair, you might as well work hard to get your stuff done. "
"You also recognize that different people prefer different environments for different kinds of work." Jakobson noted, making an example of a colleague that will visit a particular cafe whenever he wants to complete certain tasks.
According to Jakobson, the work flow in a distributed team is different. "There is no culture of 'now.' You do have to think ahead a little."
She then added that it took some acclimatizing before she became comfortable with the fact that people would no longer request permission to talk. "It took a while to get used to people just calling -- no asking if they may anymore."
Gamasutra is in Cologne, Germany this week covering GDC Europe and Gamescom. For more coverage, visit our official event page. (UBM TechWeb is parent to both Gamasutra and GDC events.)