Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, is giving all of its employees the week of September 7 off for mental health and wellness.
It’s an open secret that many times game developers push their teams toward the breaking point when it comes to new releases. We saw it with Naughty Dog before The Last of US 2 was released, and we saw it again with the delay of Halo Infinite. Although, in the latter case, Xbox decided—correctly—that the “health and stability of the team” took precedent over the release of the next Halo game.
Niantic may not be dealing with a major release of a new game on a new console, but it does have teams working around the clock to update and maintain Pokémon Go and its other games. To that end, Niantic’s Chief People Officer (that’s a pretty cool title) released a letter on the company’s public blog stating that all employees would be getting a week off. This time off is meant for employees to unplug and get away from their computers. Yes, they do mean all employees.
However, this time off doesn’t mean that Pokémon Go is being shut down for a week. Rather, it means that there will be a skeleton crew handling everything that’s happening. The letter makes clear that these people will be getting the same amount of time off at a future date. The hope is that this break will allow a team of heavy computer users to unwind and unplug, to clear their minds and come back fresh for the fans.
This is a very interesting way to give remote workers “time off”. When you are sitting at home, locked in a room by yourself with very little human interaction, you can start to get depressed. Before the pandemic, people dreamt of being able to work from home. Now that working from home is the new reality, they’re finding that it’s not what they imagined.
While the regular workday may have gotten a little bit shorter, the distinction between work and time off has become far muddier. Niantic seems to be encouraging their people to remember that there is more to life than just working and reminding them that the company cares about their health and wellbeing. Each worker is going to need to find their own balance, but this time off for Niantic’s employees should help them discover that balance. Of course, it helps when the company you work for has you in mind.
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