ATMOSFERA’s CEO’s discusses the company’s new and upcoming releases and provides an insight into how the Moscow-based firm has risen to the opportunities and challenges posed by remote working during the pandemic.
iGaming Times: Tell us more about ATMOSFERA – what are some of your leading products?
Yury Ermantraut: Our team members have extensive experience in developing bet on numbers products, such as keno and bingo. So from the start, we’ve focused on creating innovative new products in this segment. Our latest title, Bet On Poker, was released at the end of 2020 and we’re confident it’s going to be a sure-fire hit. Some of our other standout products include Keno and European Bingo Roulette. In the latest version, we replaced the roulette wheel with a lottery drum and added more variation for betting
iGT: As 2021 gets underway, have you got any new product releases lined up for this year? Can you give us any hints about what you are working on at the moment?
YE: In 2021 we are going to launch at least two new games. During Q1, our team will continue to improve our current portfolio, while later this year we will update our Live Roulette. However, before the end of 2021, we plan to launch a new product in the Game Show category. I can’t reveal any further details at the moment, but I can guarantee it will be very entertaining and we’re very excited about it.
Overall, the total number of new releases for this year is comparatively small, however this is because we’re gearing up for a significant increase in new product launches in H1 2022.
iGT: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, last year you introduced a new remote working policy. Could you tell us a bit more about it?
YE: Until March 2020, we were not in favour of remote work and had not previously considered it as a viable option. However, the pandemic forced us to re-evaluate our views. Our entire team started to work 100 percent remotely, even before lockdown restrictions were officially introduced in the country, and it turned out to be not as scary as it looked.
We spent a few days building infrastructure and establishing comfortable working processes for our teams. The most complicated task facing us with the switchover was to create and implement a procedure that would preserve our established inter-team processes and take into account control over working time. Nevertheless, we wanted to ensure we built in some freedom of action for employees to avoid making them hostages of remote work. All the more so given the entire world was already being held hostage by the restrictions bought about by the pandemic.
First of all, we approved the work structure, this covered: notifications about the beginning and end of the working day, notifications about when you’re not available and intra-team statuses to maintain synchronisation etc.
One of the advantages of remote work is, of course, saving on travel time to the office. In Moscow, a person spends on average about two hours a day travelling, and sometimes even more. We were pleasantly surprised to see that employees began to invest their extra time into team development.
Without some of the distractions associated with the office environment, remote working has also helped our employees improve their focus. We’ve noticed a big breakthrough in the speed of completing tasks that previously used to take more time
iGT: This all sounds very positive, have you noticed any downsides associated with remote working?
YE: Of course, there are still challenges associated with remote working. To work well at home, you need to have both self-discipline and good planning skills.
But more importantly, online communication cannot fully replace face-to-face communication. It takes more time to solve problems than in-person. Exchange of experience and fast communication on time-sensitive issues is also impossible to carry out as efficiently as when you’re in the office.
Beyond this, our company name, ATMOSFERA, refers to the vibe that you can sense with a person or place and in our office we’ve invested a lot of effort into establishing a distinct mood or atmosphere which really sets us apart as a workplace.
However, there is practically no way to maintain such a feeling remotely. This means that new employees joining us during the pandemic have not had the chance to experience our unique atmosphere; basically they’re seeing an ordinary IT company.
Weighing up the pros and cons of remote work, in Q1 we decided to implement a hybrid system. Our employees will now work three days from home and two in office. At the current stage of our growth as a company, in my opinion, this is the most effective working combination. It allows us to preserve all the advantages of remote work and, at the same time, minimise the disadvantages associated with it.
iGT: Despite the pandemic, you still hold in-person meetings in your offices. Why has it been important to maintain this?
YE: As soon as the government lifted restrictions, we resumed team meetings at least once a month. Experience has shown that for my team an hour of talking face-to-face can replace a week of communication via messaging apps. In addition to working meetings, we regularly go out, sharing our experiences, victories and thoughts. This makes us stronger and closer as team.