Come work at HQ... or find a new job, Roblox CEO tells staff
Games developer latest to row back on WFH flexibility. 'Zoom fatigue is real,' says bigwig
The CEO at gaming biz Roblox Corporation has given employees two stark choices: haul their asses to the company's HQ offices three days a week, which means relocation for some, or find a new employer.
David Baszucki, founder and boss at the San Mateo based developer, says that by next year, all staff who don't have a reason to work remotely will need to comply with his new order or else.
"As the pandemic stretched on, several companies announced that they would support 100 percent remote work for everyone, forever," he said in a post. "During this time we 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, as Salesforce boss, Marc Benioff, had previously mentioned, "many cohorts" including college graduates and others early in their career that learn through social contact "miss out on this mentorship."
The "pivotal moment" for the CEO came, he says, when post quarantine Roblox Corp had its first in-person group gathering. Baszucki said that inside 45 minutes he had a load of ideas to work on, "something that hadn't happened during the past few years of video meetings."
"For many of us, 'Zoom fatigue' is real. A three-hour Group Review in person is much less exhausting than over video and brainstorming sessions are more fluid and creative. While I'm confident we will get to a point where virtual workspaces are as engaging, collaborative, and productive as physical spaces, we aren't there yet."
"This is an extremely difficult decision because where we live is a personal choice and it affects all aspects of our lives. We have done everything we can to make this process as systematic and fair as possible. Unfortunately, I know that some employees will decide not to join us at headquarters."
Those exempt from the new rule include staff working in datacenters, moderators, or call centers; and staff with niche skills sets or "significant institutional knowledge."
The Roblox CEO also announced they would not be extending new offers to remote employees, beyond the exceptions outlined above. For the remote employees whom we are asking to move to in-office roles, we will provide the option to join our three-day, in-office schedule (Tues.-Thurs.) or take a severance package," said Baszucki.
The return to office plan includes multiple phases: staff that are asked to work from an office will have three months until January 16 2024 to make that decision; those unable to relocate to HQ will be out by April 15 2024; and those agreeing to relocate to San Mateo must begin work there on July 15. The company will "assist with relocation costs."
Severance will be paid to employees who leave, based on their grade and length of service. They will also get six months of healthcare.
"While we know this is the right decision for Roblox, we recognize that it may create challenges for some of our employees. Regardless of what our remote employees decide, please know that we deeply appreciate the hard work and impact each of you has had at Roblox," the CEO said.
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Many tech companies, even ones that sell remote working goods and services, rowed back on their commitment to WFH flexibility, including Dell, Meta, Amazon, and – most ironically – Zoom. Some companies are closely monitoring days in the office and threatening to sanction non-compliance.
The consensus seems to be that WFH rules benefit employees and employers but it can make managers twitchy, in that they are paranoid about the productivity of staff.
For Roblox Corp, revenues grew to $1.91 billion in 2021, jumped to $2.25 billion in 2022 and were $1.336 billion at the halfway stage of 2023. So clearly the top line is not suffering due to remote working. ®