[Updated: May 15th, 2020] We would like to provide another update regarding what Certain Affinity is doing in response to COVID-19. While we’ve settled in quite well to everyone working remotely, both Austin and Toronto are trying to figure out how to balance coronavirus containment efforts with a desire to re-open businesses. Though we’re not yet officially allowed to re-open our offices, we do anticipate that we will be allowed to soon, as long as we’re taking proper measures to promote social distancing and disinfecting.
However, just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean that you should. COVID-19 poses severe health risks to people of all ages, including previously healthy individuals, and the mechanisms of transmission, especially through the air, remain a bit of a mystery. Therefore, we are extending our work from home guidance for both Austin and Toronto through the end of August of this year.
This extension gives us more time to figure out how to ensure that when we do return to work, we can do so in a safe, yet not overly cumbersome manner. Towards this end, we are kicking off a new effort towards studio adjustments, in partnership with our architect and a few other expert advisers, to help us with planning. While we have a ton of ideas for changes and enhancements to our offices, this is very much a work in progress. We intend to both amplify our current plan and to streamline it.
We know that this is a challenging time. This pandemic is no joke. We are fortunate to be in an industry that is still thriving, and that allows us to work from home effectively. We are also fortunate to have partners that value the safety and well being of their employees and their partners. We aim to be a role model for others in how to ride out this unprecedented crisis in a careful, considerate, compassionate manner. No matter what, we will not rush back to the office, and we will do everything in our power to keep our employees and their loved ones safe.
[Original Post Below – May 5th, 2020]
Last week Max Hoberman, our CEO and Founder, sent a company-wide communication regarding the latest studio effort around COVID-19. Our efforts to keep our employees and loved ones safe has been and continues to be our top priority.
We have a social responsibility to help prevent the spread of the disease in our community. We are monitoring the scientific data on COVID-19 and the related Austin and Toronto recommendations closely. To that end, our employees have been working from home since mid-March in both Austin and Toronto. We are grateful for our Technical Operations team who were able to transition everyone to work from home in record time. They did it with a smile on their face and we are lucky to have them.
The simple fact remains that the mechanisms of transmission for the virus are still not fully understood. As a result, we believe that there are still health risks associated with going back to the office at this time.
Due to the above, we are extending our work from home guidance through the entire month of May, in both Austin and Toronto. We will continue to monitor the situation, and when the time comes to return to the studio we won’t rush; we will do so in a careful way, with the health and safety of our employees as a priority.
We do have a few employees who are struggling with working from home for various technical and personal reasons. When the city allows, and the facilities are sufficiently prepped, we will consider letting a select few employees return to the office before the official end of our work from home period.
In the meantime, we are working on multiple efforts to facilitate proper social distancing within our buildings. Our Business and Technical Operations teams are currently working on that plan which includes but is not limited to:
- Installing automatic opening doors and foot pulls on others
- Reducing the density of seating in our open areas
- Expanding cleaning routines of all shared and personal office space
- Evaluating wearing masks and doing regular temperature checks
- Investigating methods for improving airflow and air cleaning
In addition, we are ensuring business continuity while working from home. We have multiple efforts underway around critical hiring, on-boarding of new hires, and project success. We have hired a handful of talented new employees during this time and it has been a priority for us to welcome them with open (virtual) 6-foot long arms.
Outside of our studios, we’ve also been working to help our local communities through various company and employee initiatives. We are particularly fond of Frontline Foods in Austin, and Feed The Frontlines in Toronto. Each of these charities are excellent examples of the community coming together to help support frontline workers and local restaurants during this time. We also continue to engage with local schools where possible to support different game programs, including our recent mentorship opportunities during the XP Summit.
We hope that everyone reading this is safe, well, and maintaining proper social distancing. As many have said, we continue to be stronger together by staying apart.