Most Londoners would quit before they give up working from home
Go on, spill the contents of that imaginary angry resignation email... it'll do you good
Three-quarters of remote workers based in the UK's capital city would demand an inflation-busting pay increase – or quit altogether – if asked to give up their right to flexible working.
The cost of the journey to work was mentioned by over two-thirds of respondents to the Bloomberg Intelligence survey of British workers as a "key reason" for not nestling their nose under a fellow commuter's armpit for a cramped train or Tube ride.
The news comes as staffers at gaming giant Activision Blizzard – among them a Quality Assurance tester who posted a screenshot on Reddit – have been told they need to return to the office for at least three days a week following a longstanding WFH policy.
On a lengthy Twitter thread, "LeastMyHairLsOk" said the return to office (RTO) policy was to start either in April or June for both Blizzard and Activision studios (their development work is still kept separate even post merger), "depending on the studio." The poster claims to work for customer support, and noted the RTO didn't affect their department, but said that they were posting in solidarity, adding: "We have had back-to-back years of record earnings while cost cutting measures like layoffs were continually justified. WFH was the silver lining that kept many of us here."
Video game dev GangstHannah, meanwhile, asked: "Why are you, a video game studio in 2023, not offering fully remote positions? Because I am very wary of anyone who tries to convince me that wfh prevents us from communicating efficiently... When we've shipped so many games since the pandemic started almost three years ago."
The company is no stranger to worker unrest, and was recently caught up in controversy when the lead developer of World of Warcraft Classic resigned in protest after being asked to rank one of his employee's work lower than he felt it deserved in order to adhere to a "stack ranking" (grading on a curve) employee evaluation policy.
Microsoft is trying to buy Activision Blizzard, although it still has many hoops to jump through for global regulators.
We have asked the Santa Monica-headquartered company about what motivated the apparent about-face in WFH corporate policy. According to its fiscal 2021 annual SEC filing, the "Activision segment ... leases office space for development studio personnel throughout the US, primarily in California, New York, and Wisconsin... office space in London, United Kingdom... Stockholm, Sweden and Barcelona, Spain." An extensive list of office locations is available on its website.
The company reported $2.334 billion net revenues for calendar, up from $2.163 billion in the same quarter the prior year, although topline for the 12 months slipped to $7.528 billion from $8.803 billion in fiscal 2021.
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Welcome (back) to Walmart, 2 days a week
In other policy moves, the WSJ reports that Walmart Inc will close three of its American technology "hubs" – meaning "hundreds" of workers are going to have to move home to keep working there. A spokesperson told the newspaper that Walmart would pay for workers in those locations to transfer to other primary offices, "such as San Bruno, California, or the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas" and apparently hopes to relocate most of the workers. Judging by the statement the company gave to the WSJ, it does seem able to make exceptions for certain talent as "some will be allowed to become full-time remote workers."
Those who leave will be given severance pay, the spokesperson added.
Its spokesperson told The Register: "We've made the decision to focus our tech team's presence within select locations. We hope to relocate or allow for remote work for all affected associates." They added: "Our decision to be together more frequently anchors to Walmart's fundamental belief that our people make the difference, our culture matters and we build stronger partnerships when we are physically together. With this in mind, we've asked the Global Tech team to plan regular in-office days."
Current state of play
Google has required most employees to work in corporate offices three days per week since April 4 last year, but some reports have claimed the policy isn't applied evenly to all employees. Office-working staffers must be vaccinated.
It also offers the perk of four weeks of "work from anywhere" time (in addition to paid time off) if you fancy, say, being in your cabin all the time while the rest of the family is on a cruise.
Apple first tried to claw remote employees back into the office for three days per week, starting May 23 last year. But CEO Tim Cook delayed that plan amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases just a couple of days before they were due back.
In August, Apple said it wanted corporate employees to return to the office three days per week, starting on September 5, 2022. Apple staffers who have joined the #Appletoo and AppleTogether movements continue to ask for a more flexible working environment.
Meanwhile, Microsoft staff who want to work at home more than half of the time must have their schedules approved by managers, Bloomberg reported. ®