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Roblox ditches remote work to unlock potential as "innovation company"

Roblox Corp is ditching remote work and will soon require the majority of employees to begin working from its headquarters in San Mateo.

The company, which runs the eponymous Robloxgame creation platform, transitioned to a remote workforce in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but now feels that a return to the office is essential to unlock its potential as an “innovation company.”

Breaking down the rationale for the pivot in an email to employees, Roblox Corp founder and CEO David Baszucki said that while he was impressed with how much the company achieved with a remote workforce, virtual workplaces–such as those it uses to interview potential hiresand host a month-long creator conference–simply can’t measure up to those builtfrom bricks and mortar.

“I personally hoped that for our culture and our type of work, it might be possible to imagine a heavily hybrid remote culture. But there was a pivotal moment for me when we had our first post-quarantine, in-person group gathering. Within 45 minutes I came away from three separate conversations with spontaneous to do’s and ideas to put in motion, something that hadn’t happened during the past few years of video meetings,” he wrote.

“Now, nearly a year after most of us have returned to our headquarters in San Mateo, we’ve seen how much we can accomplish, how far we can push innovation, and how being together strengthens our culture. 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.”

Baszucki said the company must also consider how remote working impacts college graduates and other people early in their careers, who would “typically learn through social contact” and might miss out on mentorship opportunities provided by senior colleagues.

Roblox CEO claims office return is necessary to drive innovation and strengthen company culture

Baszuckidescribed the decision to return to the office as “extremely difficult” but said the company has done everything to make the process as “systematic and fair as possible.” Notably, there will be some workers who will be permitted to continue working remotely, including those in data centers and call centers, moderators, and “individuals who have niche skill sets or significant institutional knowledge.”

All other remote employees will be asked to accept a three-day, in-office schedule or take a severance package. They will have three months, until January 16, 2024, to decide whether to return to the office. Those unable to relocate will have an additional three months, until April 15, 2024, to transition out of their roles as full time workers.

Those who depart Roblox will receive a severance package based on their individual level and term of service, along with six months of healthcare coverage. Anybody who decides to relocate will be asked to begin working from the San Mateo office starting July 15, 2024, and will be assisted with relocation costs.

“Our highest and most immediate priority is supporting our remote employees whom we have asked to begin working from our offices, whatever decision they make, and ensuring that our teams have what they need to continue to meet our aggressive goals for this year and next,” continued Baszucki.

“For managers of remote employees who choose not to move, I understand the burden this may put on you and your teams. 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.

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