California-based metaverse creator Roblox has made a big announcement affecting the entirety of its remote workforce, revealing that they must return to headquarters by July 15 2024.
Despite Roblox’s hopes for a metaverse where everyone can meet online in virtual workplaces - as effectively engaging, collaborative and productive as real, in-person interaction - it turns out there’s still no replacement for in-person encounters to get the job done. "We aren’t there yet," acknowledged founder and CEO David Baszucki.
A choice to make
Roblox’s decision that staff must return to headquarters was first revealed in a blog post, explaining the rationale behind a return to offices three days per week. The decision was an "extremely difficult" one as Roblox has employees all around the world, and many will have to relocate if they want to keep their jobs.
However, the decision was made all the same, on the basis that remote work was only intended as a temporary measure during the pandemic, and that in-person work fosters innovation, fluidity and creativity.
Another consideration are the college graduates and those early in their careers with both typically gaining workplace skills through social contact with fellow staff and mentors. Roblox has concerns that such individuals are not getting the experience they need to flourish remotely.
Savage Games' former managing director Michail Katkoff has discussed this same matter previously, suggesting more junior employees benefit from being on-site to develop skills, and miss out by working remotely.
"As the pandemic stretched on, several companies announced that they would support 100% remote work for everyone, forever. 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," Baszucki reflected.
"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."
Following the post, all remote employees were promised an email within the hour, detailing how their roles would change should they agree to stay with the company under a hybrid work schedule. There are a few individuals with "niche skillsets" who will not be asked to return, but for the most part, the Roblox workforce has until 16 January 2024 to decide whether they will stay with the company.
We recently spoke with Playstudios CEO Andrew Pascal, who discussed strategies to make employees want to come to work.