2020 has impacted the world and the video game industry in a variety of ways. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic events such as E3 2020 were canceled. Other events such as The Game Awards happening on December 10 took a different approach and went virtual. Alongside video game events and conventions, the industry as a whole was affected as developers had to shift to work from home. This shift pushed back and delayed certain games releasing this year or releasing on the original date. For instance, Square Enix delayed Final Fantasy VII Remake from its original date and had to change the release of the game to make sure everyone was able to get a copy. It ended up working in the long run as Final Fantasy VII Remake set launch sales records for the Final Fantasy franchise. It seems that Square Enix believes that developers working from home is working and can be a viable solution long term as the company has announced a new work from home program that will employees to work from home on a permanent basis.
This new permanent work-from-home program will be officially offered to all executive officers and employees as of December 1, 2020. President and Representative Director Yosuke Matsuda said “rather than utilizing work from home solely as a means of preventing infections during the current pandemic, the Company will establish it as a permanent and core program among the working styles it accommodates. In so doing, the Company hopes not only to create a flexible and diverse working environment, but also further bolster productivity and help employees achieve the optimal work-life balance.”
Square Enix believes that this new program will help recruit more diverse human resources and establishes that the organization is capable of adapting to unexpected developments such as disasters and changes in employment models. “By adopting a new style of working for a new world, the Company will enable employees to unleash even greater creativity as it continues to provide its customers around the world with content and services that fulfill their expectations,” Matsuda said. “In doing so, the Company will strive to further enhance its corporate value.”
Square Enix’s work-from-home program combines both the “home-based” and “office-based” models. Each employee will be designated as either “home-based” (working an average of at least three days per week) or “office-based” (working an average of at least three days per week from the office). Square Enix expects approximately 80 percent of employees to be “home-based” in December.
Talking about how and why this program came to be after implementing changes in February that included working from home, staggered work hours, and online conferencing, President Matsuda said: “Following a sustained period with these measures in place, the Company conducted a survey in June that demonstrated that roughly 80% of employees had a positive view of work from home. The Company also carefully considered a wide range of opinions from businesses as diverse as games, publication, and music regarding the practicality of work from home. This program was finalized based on those considerations.”