Roblox to Employees: Return to Office or Take Severance

Roblox is the latest company to U-turn on pledges to remote workers and has issued a blunt remote to office mandate.

Employees of online game platform Roblox were told this week about new hybrid work plans that would require them to be in the San Mateo, California headquarters on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Those who choose not to will be offered a severance package, as the organization becomes the latest example of big companies ending remote work this year.

The announcement from founder and CEO David Baszucki was shared in an open-letter to all staff, and U-turns on a memo from May 2022 that stated employees could choose to “primarily work remotely.”

This latest move highlights the increasing lack of consistency across the tech industry’s way of working. While Roblox is in good company with its return to office mandate, there are also still plenty of companies offering remote working in 2023, including the likes of Dropbox, Dell, and Reddit.

Culture and Innovation Behind Roblox’s Move

In a blog titled The Future of How We Work Together at Roblox, Baszucki told employees that the company “did not take the decision lightly”.

Staff welfare is partly behind the pivot, with senior management concerned that college graduates and new starters would miss out on mentorship and “learning through social contact” if they were to start their careers working remotely.

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However, one of the main reasons for the move is to ensure that innovation remains strong. “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.” said Baszucki.

He also confirmed that relocation expenses to California, to be undertaken by summer 2024, would be provided to current remote workers if needed.

Roblox Still U-Turns on Last Year’s Memo

The May 2022 memo from Roblox Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Messing, stated that their work from home model gave employees the option to head to the office regularly, rarely, or for “quarterly get-togethers”.

Messing also shared that this original decision was “powered by personal responsibility that gives teams and leaders the flexibility to decide how they work best given their goals”.

Ultimately, the reversal of this policy hopes to “strengthen company culture [to] result in more innovative and productive employees,” even though it does almost certainly mean some employees will have to start looking for companies hiring for remote working jobs.

Roblox Severance Packages to Include Benefits

For those choosing to take severance, the package will be created on the basis of their seniority and how long they’ve been with the company. Roblox will also include six months of healthcare coverage for everyone on their policies, and individuals will be given an additional three months – until mid-April – to “transition out of their roles as full-time employees”.

However, as with all hybrid working policies, nuance plays a large part in Roblox’s recent mandate as the company will continue to employ some remote workers. These include roles such as data center operators, content moderators, and call center workers, as they require offsite working.

Similarly, those with a “niche skill set or significant institutional knowledge” can continue to work remotely. 

Baszucki acknowledged the impact this decision may have on employees’ lives, stating: “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.”

The $19 billion game company went public in 2021, after seeing business boom thanks to the pandemic. It currently employs over 2,100 people full-time.

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Written by:
Ellis Di Cataldo (MA) has over 9 years experience writing about, and for, some of the world’s biggest tech companies. She's been the lead writer across digital campaigns, always-on content and worldwide product launches, for global brands including Sony, Electrolux, Byrd, The Open University and Barclaycard. Her particular areas of interest are business trends, startup stories and product news.
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