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Roblox says employees must return to office because the metaverse still isn’t good enough

Roblox says employees must return to office because the metaverse still isn’t good enough


In a letter calling employees back to the office, Roblox CEO David Baszucki says virtual workspaces aren’t as ‘engaging, collaborative, and productive’ as physical ones.

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Roblox logo illustration
Illustration: The Verge

Roblox — a company that builds a hugely popular virtual experiences platform, recently introduced its own spin on video chat, and even created an in-Roblox career center — is “transitioning away” from remote work and will be asking “a number of our remote employees to begin working from our headquarters in San Mateo by next summer,” CEO David Baszucki wrote in an email to staff shared publicly on Tuesday.

Like many other companies, Roblox will be shifting to a model where employees are expected to work three days in the office (Tuesday through Thursday). Staffers will have until January 16th, 2024, to decide if they want to stay on at the company under the new rules. If an employee chooses to stay at Roblox and relocate, the company will help with relocation costs and expects them to report into the company’s San Mateo, California, offices by July 15th, 2024.

Staffers who “are not able to relocate” can stay at the company until April 15th, 2024. Roblox will be offering a severance package for those people who choose to leave.

Roblox went fully remote in March 2020, but, according to Baszucki, the company had “numerous deep discussions” about its future and ultimately decided that “we needed to get back to working in person.” While he “hoped” that it “might be possible to imagine a heavily hybrid remote culture,” he had a “pivotal moment” during the company’s first “post-quarantine, in-person group gathering,” he says. “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.”

Baszucki also says that virtual working environments just aren’t as good as in-person ones: “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.” Seems like the company has some work to do to meet its own goal of having Roblox employees “spend more time using Roblox for remote meetings than with video” within the next five years.

Not all remote employees will have to go back to the office. People with jobs that are “required to be remote,” like staffers in data centers and call centers, can stay remote, as will “individuals who have niche skill sets or significant institutional knowledge (e.g., multi-disciplinary skills, deep expertise with Roblox systems, etc.),” Baszucki says.

Roblox is just one of many companies to bring employees back to the office in recent months. Zoom told staffers who work within 50 miles of an office to come back in twice per week. Amazon told employees they’d have to come back to the office three days per week, and CEO Andy Jassy reportedly told unhappy staffers that if they can’t “disagree and commit... it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon.” Meta employees were back in the office three days per week as of September. And Elon Musk ended remote work at X (formerly Twitter) shortly after he took over the company late last year.