At Bytro we develop cross-platform strategy games since 2009. Most of our games are based on real historical events and are well-known for their accuracy, for being very challenging, and are beloved by hard-core strategy gamers. For us, maintaining a long-term relationship with our teammates, and creators of our games is a crucial part of our current and future success.
For the last two years, we’ve experienced incredible growth inside the company, and one way we’ve been able to remain competitive against our industry peers is by having a people-first approach. We truly understand the importance of having passionate, motivated, enthusiastic people; and that in order for them to give their best they need to feel their best.
In 24 months went from being a 35-people company to having now more than 80 employees from more than 20 different nationalities. Our company’s culture is quite unique, something we are very proud of and also very protective of. As our teams become bigger (and will become even bigger in 2023), maintaining this culture has been quite challenging, and let’s add to that, that most Bytronians work remotely. As everything is evolving, we know our culture has to evolve too.
What changes in our culture are we implementing in 2022 and beyond?
- Bytro’s Office Week
Since switching to remote work we noticed that everyone was happier and productivity had increased significantly, so giving people the freedom to choose where to work was not a difficult choice to make.
Since our culture is something everyone at Bytro genuinely values so much (and one of our strongest competitive advantages), we had to find a way in which we could still enable it without being in the same physical space. We came up with our quarterly office week: One week a quarter all Bytronians gather physically at our HQs in Hamburg, (those who don’t live in the area have their trip to Hamburg facilitated) in which the main focus is mostly team building. The whole week is planned with fun activities to get to know new faces and reconnect with old friends, brainstorm ideas for new projects, have creative workshops, etc.
2022 was the first year we fully executed it and we already see a new generation of Bytronians connecting in a new way than we did 5 years ago. But the connection is still very much there, it sparks inspiration, motivation, and a sense of community within our company, and that’s all we aim for with Bytro’s office week.
- Open and transparent communication (especially with the management board)
We’ve practiced and preached these values since the very beginning of our company, but it weighs much more now that we are not physically in the same place.
One has always been able to knock on the CEO’s office door (or send a slack message to be more precise) to give or receive feedback, but we also have a monthly company meeting with a space for people to submit anonymous questions directly to the Managing Director, and he answers them right there on the call. A lot of the people-focused initiatives in the company are born from this Q&A.
Being open to listening to the people that make our games a reality without the fear of any judgment, has allowed us to know each other on a deeper level and to create a more tailor-made company culture. Having such close communication has also put to light that implementing these new initiatives (like remote work or a 4-day work week, or every other perk one can offer in a company) might work for some people, but for others not so much. This leads us to the biggest boldest project we’ve executed: testing a 4-day work week.
- Testing a 4 day work week
The idea started as an employee initiative during a workshop. After that, a small group of people (all from different teams and levels) gather to research and propose how could Bytro make a 4-day work week happen.
The management board remained open and curious about the initiative and empowered these Bytronians to push the project and started testing in Q4 2022. Companies that tried a 4-day workweek model often reported a boost in productivity and motivation. Yet, the idea that a company could have higher output with less rigid, and potentially shorter, working hours sounds counterintuitive to many.
We want to empower those who are contributing most to our success to do so in ways that work best for them. At the same time, we have to avoid the feeling that they get less support from the rest of the team, for example when work has to be done on Fridays. This is a true challenge we have no solution for yet, and the only way to find it is by remaining open to listening to our people.
For us, testing a four-day workweek is a way of finding what works for our company and culture. Even if, in the long term, we don’t keep it and follow it strictly, it is very likely that the freedom and flexibility for people to control their working hours stays.
We’ve grown a lot, but so has the industry and the competition for the best talent in the design, development, operations, and marketing of games. Having our kind of approach and giving freedom back to the employees seems to be the perfect set-off for current employees to thrive in both their professional and personal lives while establishing a long-lasting relationship with Bytro and the products we develop for the hardcore strategy gamers.
Fundamentally, we are looking for the best, healthiest, and most productive work environment for our employees. We believe that the future of work looks different for every company and industry and that it will look different year by year but one thing is for sure: the future of work, is for companies to stay as human as possible. Listen, be open-minded, and put your trust in the people you hire.