Roblox Makes Poor Decision To Force In-Person Work
Another company is making the decision to force employees back to in-office work. Roblox has announced a new mandate for employees to return to the office for at least three days per week. Should they not comply, they’ll have to take a severance package and be out of a job.
The announcement came via an open letter CEO David Baszucki sent on Tuesday.
“We did not make this decision lightly, as we understand that the decision to move is significant, both for our employees and for their families and loved ones,” he said. “All remote employees will receive an email within the next hour with details about the impact of this decision on the location of their roles.”
Baszucki says that the decision comes because of a few factors.
“[W]e had numerous deep discussions and we kept coming back to the notion that, ultimately, Roblox is an innovation company and we needed to get back to working in person,” he said. “We were also concerned about many cohorts, such as our new college graduates and people early in their careers, who typically learn through social contact and would miss out on this mentorship. And of course this requires the presence of senior employees to provide that mentorship.”
Not all remote employees will be asked to return to the office. Those whose roles are required to be remote like data centers, moderators, and others won’t be asked back. Also, employees who “who have niche skill sets or significant institutional knowledge” won’t be asked to return to the office.
Employees will have until January 16, 2024, to decide to work in the office again. With many employees working outside of the company’s headquarters in San Mateo, Baszucki says that should they choose not to relocate to the area, they will remain on as employees until April 15, 2024.
Those who relocate to the San Mateo area have until July 15 to move. Roblox will assist with relocation costs, though it wasn’t mentioned how much assistance will be available.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Even if it’s only three days in-office per week, Roblox is yet another company that is forcing people to make major life decisions like moving to one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States for no reason other than control.
The news of the return-to-office mandate comes after it was touted by Lords of the Fallen developer CI Games that the game was developed 100% remotely. Even Insomniac’s critically acclaimed Spider-Man 2 was developed with a 100% remote staff.
While you can make the argument that those games not being “live service” titles helps with the ability to develop remotely, it’s still development work. Software developers — which, by the way, I am at an enterprise level, so I know what I’m talking about — work better when given the flexibility to choose their work environment.
Working in the office can be beneficial for many developers and employees, but that’s not always the case. Over the course of the last three years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of developers at various studios who have said that the ability to just put their heads down and work without the distraction of office talk has increased their skill and ability to complete tasks quicker than before.
Personally, any sort of forced in-office work creates a feeling of a desire to micromanage employees as well as attempts to justify ridiculously priced leases. Baszucki’s attempt to claim that “Zoom Fatigue”, which I do believe exists to a point, is caused by anything other than having too many meetings is nothing short of absurd.
There’s also the blanket claim that staff like recent college graduates and those early in their careers learn more by in-person contact than remote. That’s true for some, but not others. Trying to use blanket statements to force a return to office, again, screams the need to micromanage.
Remote work, in every industry that can support it — like game development — isn’t just the future, it’s here. It’s about time that companies stop trying to go back in time and just accept it.