in a remote world

How we work

This is the live document that sets out guidelines for how to be a successful member of the Blankhans team. We constantly iterate on our processes, so expect this to change from time to time. This most recent version was updated in July 2021.

our mission

“Blankhans partners with players to create a space that is seeking to be their digital hang-out place, no matter in which mood they are. We are operating a live service in the leanest way possible.”

our vision

“To be a sustainable business that creates happiness to the fellowship of founders, employees and players”

the culture we need

We aim to create a very small team of games business ninja. In such a small team, everyone needs to be hands-on and empowered to autonomy, responsibility, and ownership of their craft.

We share and communicate our work openly. We know that only providing and receiving honest feedback from colleagues and players will forge our craft to be outstanding.  Everyone’s voice is valuable. We live and breathe for the happiness our art provides to people. In our world, expertise, passion, and data speak louder than senior titles or tenure. 

Crafting something so special with so little people and resources is a challenge like a masterpiece. We need your leadership and initiative to be successful. We do the daily hustle as we know that only by doing things get created. We understand that only with a healthy integration of work into our lives can we achieve great things. We understand that iteration is the fastest way to success and that success implies constant learning, failures, and triumph. We desire challenges. Every day.

This is Blankhans. A business. A family. Crafting virtual worlds that are here to stay. 

we are remote first

“Remote First means that we are intentional about our processes, technology, operations and culture, to make it feel equally productive, inclusive and fun to work at Blankhans regardless of location”

 

We are Remote First in order to:

  • Be able to work with the best talent regardless of location or life situation
  • Enable all staff everywhere to do their best work, most productively
  • Become the most diverse, accessible and inclusive company we can be
  • Add value to our talent by learning to work effectively in distributed orgs

 

We build all our systems and processes assuming everyone is remote. We use office facilities as shared work and meeting spaces for those who need it or prefer it over working from home. You should choose your location based on what is most comfortable for you and your loved ones.

 

“Successfully working from home is a skill, just like programming, designing or writing. It takes time and commitment to develop that skill”

– Alex Turnbull, CEO of Groove

 

This document does not define an end-state. It reflects our iterative quest to constantly get better and better at working together as a team, wherever we are.

how we work together

We do understand that creative processes and especially game making are extremely hard. We do realize that “being in a room” has its unique advantages. Therefore we do acknowledge that we are on a journey to find a way how we can replace physical offices. We know that this is particularly hard in the art of game making.

 

We know that we have to iterate on these guidelines on an ongoing basis. We will learn things that work and that don’t work. Our commitment is not to this exact way of working, our commitment is to iterate on finding the best way of working. Which must be remote.

the TL;DR of how we work
  1. We take initiative and get it done – we do not accept being stuck or blocked, we do not check in – or pass on – work that isn’t up to our standards
  2. We help others get their work done and unblock and support them as needed
  3. We use our presence tools and social meets to help us build strong human connections with each other
  4. We always over-document & over-communicate everything in writing in the right place
  5. We challenge our culture when it is not working to help maintain and improve it
  6. Processes exist to make us more efficient and successful. A process that does not fulfill that, needs to be changed, replaced, or terminated.
our working hours and availability
  • We contribute as much as we can sustainably. We’re an ambitious company that looks to break boundaries and redefine expectations.  We expect a lot of each other, including the ability to know when we need rest and need time off. We take time to take care of ourselves and each other.
  • We attend our weekly company get-together. We run short all-company meetings every week at 6 PM CEST to see each other’s faces and help us stay in sync and have some fun together.
  • We publish our working hours in google calendar and slack to help each other collaborate better and understand time zone overlaps. We publish our vacations on the vacation calendar to enable all to see in advance who we can rely on when in their work.
  • We communicate unexpected absences clearly. When we get sick or need to deal with non-work commitments, we inform our peers and communicate it on #presence to make sure everyone knows if someone is away and plan accordingly.
our meetings
  • We are always on time: Meetings start exactly on time to avoid frustration from waiting
  • We set up 5 min before: As meeting organizers, we start the zoom meeting 5 minutes in advance to avoid the start of the meeting being spent sorting out tech
  • We do not tolerate equipment failure or poor connection. If the audio/video setup is not working, or anything about it can be improved, we raise a flag with operations immediately and prioritize getting it fixed.
  • We do not tolerate meetings for the sake of having a meeting. Personal interaction is important but prioritizes focus time over meeting time. If you can solve something asynchronously, it should be the preferred way.
our communications
  • Whenever possible, we are present in a Slack huddle: Being in a huddle helps us work seamlessly in small teams and helps us maximize our frictionless, unscheduled 1:1 synchronous communication. It keeps our engine well oiled.
  • We understand how important responsiveness is: Expect responses to internal DM within 12hrs. If it’s more urgent than that, call or find it on discord.
  • We make clear decisions in meetings with the right people present. Not on slack/email. Decisions with dependencies or impact on others are made in meetings and then communicated widely across email, slack, etc.
  • We document everything in well-structured documents. Save them in the Shared Drive, according to the Blankhans documentation standards.
  • We post sneak peeks of work-in-progress work in #general or relevant channels. It is helpful for awareness and for building trust and understanding between teams.
  • Use the google calendar integration of slack to signal others your availability. Help others not disturb your work and be transparent about your availability. While using the google calendar integration, we can show if we are available for a quick chat on a problem or not.
our work setup
  • We have fast internet (best available connection) where we work.
  • We have a great headset and microphone setup. Pick your favorite at a sensible price.
  • We get up and take frequent breaks! To stay healthy you need fresh air, breaks, walks, lunch, coffee etc.
  • We travel smartly and safely – We travel to our company offsites and occasionally to collaborate on specific projects. Stay safe, and make sure all flights + accommodation are booked well in advance, following cost guidelines. The less we spend on logistics the more we can spend on ourselves and our games.
our use of communication tools
  • Slack is our primary text communication tool. Stick to simple etiquette – use threads. Post in the appropriate channels. Channel owners keep their channels clean.
  • Slack Huddles are our presence + audio chat tool to hang out at your desk or in huddle lounges to “co-work” in smaller groups (3-6 people). We are always on Slack when working unless we have a good reason not to be. This way everyone is aware of everyone else, making it easy to collaborate on a problem and help each other out.
  • Google meet is our tool for scheduled meetings and large gatherings that need screen sharing.
  • Email is used for broadcasting data that needs to live beyond slack. Short, precise, complete, descriptive subject, to the right people. Write it slowly so it communicates very clearly, avoids confusion, and doesn’t waste people’s time by creating obvious questions or email chains.
how we lead

Being a remote-first organization puts extra pressure on good communications and leadership hygiene. This is how we lead.

 

  • We Lead by Personal Example: We understand that culture is the sum of our little actions. We work hard. We get things done. We are on time for meetings, we are kind and respectful, we do excellent work with high attention to detail. We act the way we want our best performers to act.
  • We Serve our Talent: We listen. We make sure our teams have everything they need to make great decisions and move fast as independently as possible. To achieve this we over-communicate information, decisions, and plans and seek feedback at the 80% stage from the widest set of talent internally. If in doubt, communicate, and if in doubt, include. By doing this well we establish maximum productivity from everyone.
  • We are Planful and Organized: We, and everyone on our teams, are at all times clear on what our top-3 priorities are this week and this quarter. And we have a view on what we want to have accomplished in the next 6-12 months. We organize weekly team meets to review & plan team activities. We organize (bi)-weekly 1:1s with our team to connect as human beings. We delegate ownership of decisions as far as possible.
  • We Over-Communicate and Over-Include: We ensure all information is always shared and stored digitally. We use Confluence, JIRA, and the shared Gdrive to make sure all decisions, knowledge, and workspaces exist in a digital form and stick to Blankhans documentation standards.
  • We Hold our Teams Accountable. We nurture and coach our talent. But we take no BS. We expect the highest standards and commitment. Accepting consistent underperformance or inappropriate behavior lets down the rest of the team.
  • We Minimize Meetings: We maximize the time that our teams have to focus on their tasks and minimize context switching by clustering out meets together and keeping them short and efficient.
who we are
what it means to be part of the show

We are here to create worlds in which people have enough flexibility to experience the gameplay that fits their current mood. We will create these together with our partners, our colleagues and our players. It is in our DNA to reach as many people as possible, this is why our live services are free to play and multi platform. All of that in the most iterative way.
We are a lean company. We try to reach high standards with as little effort as reasonably possible.

 

We create experiences that fit the various moods of our players and reach them where they are.

we will win through
  • Our Talent: Finding and cultivating the absolute best talent and cutting edge craftsmanship across art, technology, and business disciplines. By betting on the extraordinary and high-performance teams that allow us to achieve meaningful results in a lean way.
  • Our Culture: The strong dedication everyone feels to our game projects and the way we build and iterate on meaningful virtual worlds. 
  • Our Partners: We partner with our players to forge the game we and they enjoy the most to play. This means we will have the strongest product-market-fit possible.
  • Our Sustainability: As we optimize for a lean organization that operates with as little people and resources as possible we can sustain our small-scale company with growing success and ambitions.
  • Feedback is a driver: We do take feedback from our players and peers seriously and do give feedback to others to help them grow as a professional.