So, who are you and what do you do?
I’m Kyra and I’m the Chief of Staff at Netspeak.
What does the Chief of Staff do?
I do lots of things! The main three areas are management, operations and finance. I come from an academic background in management, so I support the company’s line managers and build processes around one-to-ones and performance management. I'm also really focused on Equality Diversity & Inclusion - I'm also part of UKIE’s EDI subgroup - and I’m responsible for making sure our studio embodies best practices in inclusivity and staff welfare. On top of that, I oversee the operations team, hiring activity, and I’m also responsible for budgets and P&L reporting.
That’s a lot of stuff! Can you tell us a bit about your day to day routine?
So the first part of my day always starts with a stand-up with the operations team. Currently, we're working on our summer party, which is quite exciting. I also work closely with Moran, our COO, and Cally the CEO, so we talk throughout the day. And after that, my days are very changeable. Sometimes I have nothing but meetings. Sometimes I get to think about my own work, which is fun!
Throughout the month, I have catch-ups with all the line managers in the studio. If there's anything they’re stressed about or if they need help, we talk more frequently, but I make sure to catch up with everyone at least once a month, just to check their teams are alright and they’re happy.
I also have some direct reports - the Ops team, our Community Manager, Audio Designer and Data Director all report in to me so I check in with them regularly too.
Netspeak prides itself on being a studio that prioritizes staff wellbeing. What sorts of strategies do you use to achieve this?
One of the nicest things about Netspeak is that this ethos comes top-down. I've worked in other studios where I've had to really push to get momentum behind staff welfare and best practices, so it's really refreshing to work somewhere where the initiatives I run have the full backing of the rest of the leadership team.
One of the things we do, which I wish all studios would do, is transparent salary bracketing when we're advertising jobs. I don't want anyone to enter the hiring conversation and then find out that our budgets and the salary they’re expecting don't match. I also keep a frequent eye on salaries being paid by other games studios to make sure we're still paying people fairly and keeping up with the cost of living to the best of our ability.
Mental health is also super important. We have several initiatives in place to support staff mental health. We've got unlimited holiday, because people aren’t productive if they aren’t well-rested. I've just come back from a break, and that was so useful to me and my mental health. I think it's a great thing and I wish more studios would commit to it.
On top of this, we also have a set number of self-care days; which differ from regular holiday in that you can take them with no notice. They’re also different from sick leave because you don't need to give any reason at all. You can say, "I can't come to work today," and take a self-care day. I think that's really important and allows people to take care of themselves.
We also provide all staff with private medical insurance, and we have an Employee Assistance Program that gives our employees access to counseling and therapy if they need it. We are a small studio, but we try to look after our people as much as we can.
Is there anything you’ve done recently that you’re particularly proud of?
We’re currently planning a party to celebrate a big milestone in Sunshine Days that’s coming up, which is really exciting! We're a remote first company, and I think we’ve definitely proven that the full-remote model can work. It allows us to have employees all over the UK and across the world. But it's also really important to find ways to have that face-to-face interaction, because I think it builds a network of trust and friendship which, if you get it right, makes work into a joy. One thing that sometimes falls by the wayside in remote studios is celebrations for big achievements, so I’m really looking forward to getting everyone together to say, "This is amazing. Look what we've done.”
The other thing I’m excited about at the moment is we’re planning some training around LGBTQIA+ issues and relating that to mental health and intersectionality. We’re going to run the training internally, but we’re also going to produce training resources which we can share with the rest of the industry. Again, it’s so refreshing to work in a studio where we can make time for activities that make the industry safer for everyone.
What do you like about working at Netspeak?
It’s got to be the people! The people are what make it, this is cheesy, but it's what makes it a good place to work. And like I was saying, the top-down support allows me to do my job and what I'm good at easily. And it's so liberating.
What’s your favourite thing about Sunshine Days?
The good vibes. I think that's one of my favorite things. Like, I had an experience yesterday. I think it was on the world map, and someone was throwing flowers, and then we got out a boombox, and everyone started throwing flowers and placing their own boomboxes. It was just a really nice little interaction, you're not talking to anyone, but you're just having a good time running around next to real-life people. It's a social game, but you can take it as deep or as surface level as you want. It’s nice to see real people running around having a good time and it’s nice to join in if you feel like it.
And last but not least, what’s your friend code in Sunshine Days?
My house is 8043-6270-4773. I’m particularly proud of the reading nook and little tiger enclosure!