back to article Come work at HQ... or find a new job, Roblox CEO tells staff

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 …

  1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Time...enough

    "...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."

    Oh, plenty of time to find another employer who has a more amenable WFH policy. ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time...enough

      There are endless remote jobs but most won't pay as much as roblox: https://www.levels.fyi/companies/roblox/salaries/software-engineer

      The days of keeping your FAANG+ salary but also live in a low cost of living area are likely coming to a close unless you can land a job at Airbnb.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Time...enough

        Which is fair since not having to travel saves you a bundle and allows relocating to a lower priced real estate area. Extra free time is also worthwhile and valuable.

        Competition is intense for the best talent and I'm convinced that some startups will take advantage of this by offering generous WFH policies.

    2. tmTM

      Re: Time...enough

      Another idiot employer paid over the odds for office space only to find no-one actually wants to go there.

      Pity they fail to take the hint, slash their overheads by renting somewhere much smaller and appropriate.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Return

    The grand return to the office. Who wouldn't leap at the chance to swap their cosy, coffee-scented mornings at home for the unmistakable musk of public transport at rush hour or the serenity of bumper-to-bumper traffic?

    And the sanctified open-plan office! It's not just a productivity hub; it's a cultural melting pot where you learn essential life skills like typing while involuntarily eavesdropping, mastering the 7-minute microwave queue stand-off, and, of course, the diplomatic handling of Spoiled Tuna Sandwich-gate 2023.

    Forget 'Zoom fatigue'; that's child's play - because who doesn't love a meeting that could've been an email, but live and with snacks?

    In-office mentorship? Nothing says professional growth quite like unsolicited advice from Steve at the coffee machine, spouting wisdom that's as outdated as the 'casual Friday' memo.

    Brainstorming sessions? A creative bonanza! There's just something about a fluorescent-lit room that really gets the innovative juices stagnating.

    But the pièce de résistance, the true essence of office magic, is the unbridled joy of 'forced fun' - because nothing screams 'team building' like trust falls with Dave from accounting who, incidentally, also trusts deodorant is optional.

    Yes, brace yourselves, dear workers, for the unparalleled euphoria of office life is upon us once again. May your coffees be strong, your bathroom queues short, and your headphone's noise-cancellation formidable. Welcome back!

    1. ckm5
      Pint

      Re: Return

      Brilliant, thanks for that, had a good laugh.

    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Team-Building Exercises: the Trust Fall

      I've always been out "sick" or on vacation the days those atrocities have been scheduled. I also had the advantage of a boss who granted his calendar "world==read access" permissions.

      Dave from accounting may be a great guy, but I wouldn't trust him to carry a sealed box of staples across the room without injuring himself with them, let alone trust his (in)competence with my personal safety.

      (Icon for "Escape from management-dictated personal-risk-taking".)

    3. EricB123 Bronze badge

      Re: Return

      You forgot to mention the crappy 1 ply toilet paper. Of all things to forget!

    4. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Return

      "cultural melting pot"

      Also in the Petri dish sense of "culture" in my experience of open plan.

      'forced fun' - always wondered how many of participants seriously considered adding something more lethal to the paintballs. (More vive la résistance :)

      Being well out of the fray, I am guessing in the longer term those enterprises that persevere in this foolishness will in the near term be unable to replace the (even the exempted) talent when they choose to move on and in the longer term be unable to compete with more flexible and agile enterprises (possibly founded by these earlier emigre.) The C-suites in most North American enterprises appear to be stuffed with the dreaded Dino-Babies - or if not saurians at least reptiles.

  3. AdamWill

    subhead got cut off

    "'Zoom fatigue is real,' says bigwig"

    I think you missed a bit, there. Here, let me fix it:

    "'Zoom fatigue is real,' says bigwig who can afford to live as close as he likes to the office and be chauffeured there every day"

    The opinions of his underlings on Zoom fatigue vs. office fatigue were, unsurprisingly, not solicited.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      9 of 10 other delusional idiots who are full crap also agree

      Another CEO prognosticating from their reality bubble and one who, like their company, is ethically challenged. (Dude makes a living off CC fraud they pull off by draining parents account dry when their kids whine and then run up thousands in real world dollars buying worthless "Robux" and loot boxes.)

      This is cover for layoffs, because the CEO's want us to pay for the economic damage their greedflation caused by murdering the job market. They want to squeeze the bit players down to the ones who are easily intimidated.

      Note that the announcement says that critical staff will be exempt from this for now, but for everyone else you are agreeing that you quit, they totally didn't fire you, that would impact their unemployment insurance fund and have tax implications. No, you either move to scenic San Mateo, CA and hope you can scrape the $8,770 an month to qualify to even put an application in for the rental market, which the company is silent about helping cover.

      Or you agree that it's all your fault for not ripping your life up during the holidays, downsizing into bay area sized housing and taking a huge cost of living hit by moving to the most overheated market in the bay area. Or you eat the drive of doom, and look for something in the east bay, which will probably be even smaller, almost as expensive, and come with a commute so long you may ask yourself if you can swim the 10 miles instead.

      Let's call this what it is, the CEO is avoiding the bad optics of announcing layoffs before the holiday season, and is hoping enough non-critical people will bail out to prop up the next couple of quarters, so they can save the actual layoff announcements for next year. They are also trying to avoid saying they are letting people go forcing them out, which is as transparent as it is spineless. His whinge about how his prefers to force his staff to squirm in their seats for a three hour marathon because they kept tapping out and visiting the loo on Zoom is just as telling. Another dweller in the Ivory tower annoyed his peons have lives, and ingnoring what is best for his team, the company in the long term, or the bottom line.

      The big question is why we are still listing to these clowns. I think the reg missed a free use of the old line "Shut that bloody Baszucki up!"

    2. Derezed

      Re: subhead got cut off

      I think you fixed the wrong thing. He has a good reason not to work from the office like his drones: he’s rich and can’t be arsed. This will be BAU for senior management, their friends and tennis partners and GET BACK TO YOUR FUCKING WORKSTATION OIK! For everyone else. It’s a lose/win situation!

    3. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: subhead got cut off

      says bigwig who can afford to live as close as he likes to the office and be chauffeured there every day"

      I looked up the cost of living in San Mateo. It is 84% higher than the average US cost of living. 84% raises across the board, or bigwig comes into an empty office anyway. Sounds fair.

  4. Moldskred

    "Roblox is an innovation company and we needed to get back to working in person."

    They don't even see the inherent irony, do they?

  5. Howard Sway Silver badge

    inside 45 minutes he had a load of ideas to work on

    Sure, they were full of new ideas when they came back together for the first time in months. See how full of new ideas they are in 12 weeks time after 3 months of commuting fatigue and office irritations. The lesson here should be to have occasional periods when you all get together, not that getting together every day will be as productive as that.

    Also, your productivity seems to have suffered so much that your revenues have doubled during the WFH period. Explain that.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: inside 45 minutes he had a load of ideas to work on

      The lesson here should be to have occasional periods when you all get together

      Forcing people to meet, just for the sake of meeting or hmm "team building". I mean, it's daft too.

      In healthier workplaces, these - once in a few months - get togethers are entirely optional.

      It's fun for younger employees, but for older ones - sometimes that requires a lot of planning, energy, for something that ultimately is listening to other people mundane life stories and entertaining them with yours, while they make fools of themselves by getting too drunk or else. If you are older, you heard and seen all of it many times over and it's simply boring.

      and I am yet to hear about a work meeting that cannot be done online (except when there are serious security concerns).

  6. Paul Dx

    Not quite equal treatment

    "Those exempt from the new rule include...; and staff with niche skills sets or "significant institutional knowledge."

    In other words. If you're an ordinary pleb get your backside into the office but if you're harder to replace we're sorry for bothering you with this email.

  7. xyz123 Silver badge

    Roblox..not good enough to host virtual meetings, according to the Roblox CEO.

  8. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The struggle is real

    I know this will be an unpopular opinion with El Reg's population of elderly, misanthropic shut-ins, but onboarding at a new job remotely is significantly harder than in-person, and I've been on both sides of the problem. Knowledge sharing is made more difficult by the lack of organic conversations which naturally arise or by the lack of immediate access to senior staff who can help new hires understand the intricacies of their jobs. Static documentation and training videos are no substitute for the context of tribal knowledge. Similarly, as the Roblox CEO pointed out, conversations between multiple employees are much more difficult on Zoom (or whatever), both because of Zoom fatigue and because the flow of conversation on a Zoom call just isn't as natural. Also, most people just want to get off a Zoom call as quickly as possible, whereas (again, the misanthropic commentard population notwithstanding) in-person conversation tend to be much more pleasant and to satisfy the average person's need for real human contact.

    It's also worth noting that Roblox is taking what seems like a modest step, requiring employees to come in three days a week rather than five, which should make the pill easier to swallow.

    Don't forget to smash that downvote button, everyone!

    1. Derezed

      Re: The struggle is real

      Give them an inch and they’ll take a yard.

      Today it’s 3 days, tomorrow it’s 5. The only thing that won’t change is the CEOs lifestyle…he goes to the office when he likes.

    2. Grogan Silver badge

      Re: The struggle is real

      That's just your opinion... maybe you're one of those special needs kids. Other people (and projects) manage to function quite well.

      I won't take the bait on the downvote, I don't downvote people for having opinions. Petty, jumped up little prigs do things like that. They think their judgement matters or something. The real purpose of upvotes and downvotes in discussions is for sorting by post popularity, but give people the tiniest perception of power and they'll use it vindictively.

    3. ckm5

      Re: The struggle is real

      Give me a break. I run a tech company, not a large as Roblox but not 2 bros in a basement either. We're fully remote and have zero issues onboarding or mentoring new staff. All lot of them tell me "it's the best place I've ever worked" and I'm always asking for the negative side of things. The average age is probably around 25, so most people are relatively new.

      It's about have a culture & processes that work for a remote workforce and not favoring in person over remote employees. No one uses Zoom because we all hate Zoom, most work revolves around Slack. And we have in-person gettogethers twice a year so people can meet & sync. Some people have made it clear they don't want to attend, which is fine.

      I'm not sure how you can describe this as a "modest step". There is zero difference between 3 or 5 days a week, you still HAVE to live in the same generally uber-expensive area and uproot your family and yourself from whereever you are now.

      It's just a shitty, unjustified and underwater way of getting rid of people or a commentary on a useless executive team who doesn't trust their employees. Either way, it speaks volumes.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: The struggle is real

        @ckm5: If what you say is true, then I offer you my sincere congratulations. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there who have not managed to develop an effective remote on-boarding process.

        More generally, and of course anecdotally, I have both experienced and heard from others that creative collaboration is markedly improved in person. Of course, the counterpoint to that notion is that individual productivity is often much higher at home since home is usually more comfortable and more conducive to focus. In short, I suspect that hybrid work arrangements will become more common.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The struggle is real

          "I have both experienced and heard from others that creative collaboration is markedly improved in person. Of course, the counterpoint to that notion is that individual productivity is often much higher at home since home is usually more comfortable and more conducive to focus. In short, I suspect that hybrid work arrangements will become more common."

          Many jobs that can be done remotely do no have a creativity aspect to them or management doesn't welcome any creativity they haven's supplied themselves. For a group that is meant to be creative, perhaps it's better for all involved that their office is located someplace people can afford and want to live with good schools, goods shops and a local that serves the best perspective and soda for miles. Unless you'd prefer a nice thick pint of sanity.

    4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: The struggle is real

      is made more difficult by the lack of organic conversations which naturally arise or by the lack of immediate access to senior staff who can help new hires understand the intricacies of their jobs.

      Can you explain? Usually the senior staff is just a few clicks away and you won't derail their train of thought by "immediate access" and "organic conversation", but rather have healthier asynchronous exchange where they can respond to you during the pocket where their brain runs idle.

      Good company would have all information you need accessible online and a chat where you can ask anything you want, which is more effective than bothering people while they think about something.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: The struggle is real

        @elsergiovolador: The standard cliche is "water cooler conversations," which covers conversations which occur in informal settings. Such conversations tend to be more wide-ranging, in my experience, than single-purpose phone or Zoom calls. When in the office, co-workers are more likely to do things like have lunch together, which builds bonds of trust and understanding and even friendship. Humans are social animals, and being in the same place fosters social connectedness, which improves team cohesion. How much any of that matters does depend on what kind of work you're doing and how much experience you have doing it.

        And before people leap in with "I hate my co-workers and, in fact, all of humanity, and I wish they would all die in a fire," I am not, obviously, talking about you in the paragraph above, but it may surprise you to learn that not everyone is like you.

        Conversely, it's certainly worth noting that making people come into the office when they're just going to sit on Zoom calls all day is thoroughly pointless. RTO should incorporate an understanding of what employees will actually be doing with their office time and ensure that it's valuable and productive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The struggle is real

          Given how many office workers spend their days doom scrolling to fill hours, this is all about presenteeism - my team is bigger than yours

          Also getting out of the office for lunch, getting fresh air, natural light and some exercise has benefits for your body, mind and productivity.

          Immediate access - like trying to locate someone who is anywhere bar their desk, trying to grab them between meetings, in between phone calls, client meetings etc....

          Load of cobblers imho, this is due to "well it's always been this way, why change stuff, I like the office"

    5. mickaroo

      Re: The struggle is real

      >> I know this will be an unpopular opinion with El Reg's population of elderly, misanthropic shut-ins <<

      I see what you did there... We're either with you, or we're a "population of elderly, misanthropic shut-ins".

      Thinking about it, I am an elderly, misanthropic shut-in. And proud of it ];-)

    6. AdamWill

      Re: The struggle is real

      The struggle is real, indeed, but the fix is not automatically "oh well, everyone work in offices forever".

      If you try a new thing, encounter a problem and immediately go back to the old thing, you'll never move forward. Before giving up and going back to the old way, you need to look at ways to fix the problems you ran into. Onboarding is difficult if you just try and make it work exactly the way it worked before, only over Zoom? Okay, then that needs fixing. Fix the documentation! That will help out with much more than just onboarding. It's a perennial problem that nobody sees updating docs as important enough for it to get done - well, now it's more important, right? So get it done. Training videos suck? Well, make better ones. As an old codger (I'm 41, that counts, right?) I firmly believe this generation spends all its time glued to Tiktok and Youtube anyway, so it's not like the concept of "watching videos" is inherently a problem, right? Seems more likely the problem is "the videos suck".

      Discussions between multiple employees on video chats are indeed generally terrible - so don't use video chats for casual discussions. Use chat. Again, it's not like people are against group chats, is it? We appear to voluntarily spend hours of our lives hanging out in them. Doesn't seem like doing this at work as well should be an insuperable problem. Heck, maybe some folks would like to use audio chats - chat systems all support those, these days. Both text and audio chat are much better than video chat for casual, unscheduled, and ongoing chatter because the social expectations around them are different: on a video call everybody expects everyone else to be 100% focused on that call, ideally staring at the camera all the time. This isn't how you behave when you're sitting with other people in an office, so it can't replace that experience. Group chats are much *more* like sitting with other people in an office in a lot of ways.

      And heck, if you try all that and still find onboarding works better in person - then *do onboarding in person*. This is what my company does even for people who will subsequently work remotely - you go to an office for a week of onboarding that all happens in person, in a cross-functional group. The company can require some more experienced folks from your departments to be there to do the 'folk wisdom' stuff. It's much better to have to take a shift helping out onboarding for a group of new folks every so often than to be expected to be in the office three days a week forever just 'cuz.

      I've worked fully remote for nearly 15 years now. It works fine because the work environment is set up to expect and handle this (because folks are very spread out geographically anyhow, even the ones in offices). We use chat systems for casual chatter. We use ticket systems for tracking work. We have in-person onboarding for new folks, and regular conferences for everyone to get in-person energy and the whole "new ideas to work on" thing. There isn't just a binary choice between "everyone comes into the office all the time" and "everyone sits in their house on video calls all the time".

      If you get stuck with a company that doesn't want to make an effort to make remote work actually, you know, *work*, that indeed sucks. But it doesn't mean the concept is doomed.

    7. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The struggle is real

      I agree with you on some of your points, though I'd be careful about how absolute you think they are, as how easy or difficult it is to get someone started depends rather heavily on how crap the processes are. I have seen some advantages to interactions that happen in person which I don't think text chat or video meetings have equaled, but my anecdotal experience isn't enough to say that everyone experiences that. However, I must entirely disagree about this point:

      "It's also worth noting that Roblox is taking what seems like a modest step, requiring employees to come in three days a week rather than five, which should make the pill easier to swallow."

      Their modest step requires that everyone they either hired in a different place or permitted to move to a different place has to move to a new, expensive city. Just because they can work in their home on a couple days doesn't stop that move from being quite a big change for all those people. They have the right to do that, but I am not surprised at all that people see that as a rather onerous requirement. One might suggest that, if they were going to do this, maybe they shouldn't have allowed people to join from locations other than San Mateo in the first place. It's the same reason that, when I've talked to people offering jobs, they often state right in the first meeting where the job is and whether I'd have to move, because they know that a large subset of their market is unwilling to do that. These are the people who will not state important details like how much I'll be paid until everything else is done, and even they know that the location is so important to most applicants that they could be wasting a lot of time if they don't make sure of that.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The struggle is real

      God it sounds like chatgpt swallowed management buzzword monthly.....

      Onboarding.....

  9. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Cheaper than layoffs

    Does anybody still believe these aren't hidden ways of staff reduction?

    It seems to strongly correlate with companies that a) over-hired and b) find themselves in financial difficulties for any number of reasons (*)

    (*) financial difficulties being defined as real or merely "the stock price isn't where we want it and that affects the C-level bonuses. those new yachts and jets don't pay for themselves"

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Cheaper than layoffs

      I do wonder how much they'd pay to someone they already chose to fire. Given the payments they've said they will give to anyone who won't move, I wonder if it really is cheaper. This is especially true since they're paying a relocation cost for anyone who doesn't leave. Since they have those costs, I think there's a possibility that it's not a stealth layoff, which is actually worse because it means the executives are really stupid enough to think they can rule their company by pointless edict and don't understand the likely consequences.

      It's probably going to work out badly, though, this much I'm confident about. Allow ing employees to self-select who will quit means you'll probably lose some you need and fail to get rid of some that you could do without. If they had done a layoff, they would probably end up paying a similar amount but would get to choose people they didn't want, and if they were really strapped for cash and wanted to get rid of people, there are easier ways to get employees to quit than announcing an expensive relocation policy.

  10. streaky
    Pirate

    WFH

    Sucks to not have a long-standing WFH contract that predates covid.

    It works fine if business doesn't fight it every step of the way - some people like working in an office and all the nonsense that comes with it, and good for them, but many people, especially self-motivators (who I'd argue a rational business would want to employ) don't.

    Cat's out the bag, and there's massive opportunities where it's viable and embraced.

  11. sabroni Silver badge
    Boffin

    re: clearly the top line is not suffering due to remote working.

    So this is nothing to do with productivity then, the managers are just looking for something to do.

    They HATE that they aren't getting to make your life miserable with commuting.

    Productivity? Profits? Why would the management be thinking about that?

  12. ChoHag Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Social Contact?

    > college graduates and others early in their career that learn through social contact "miss out on this mentorship."

    Would these be the same graduates and other young people that are, en masse, moving their social contact online and mediating it through a screen?

    Those same people who learned and are learning to do that by playing MMORPGs like Roblox?

  13. Roger Kynaston
    Mushroom

    <fill in your own intemperate words here>

    The thing with these mandated back the office proles/peons is the lack of choice. Some people like the office experience. Some don't. It could go the other way where a company decides to save on office rental by forcing everyone out.

    This CEO (wank puffin is my choice of insult) seems to have forgotten that happy staff are more productive. Let the ones who are happy use Zoom/Teams/Slack and let the social animals have their water cooler moments.

    I'd be interested if his office door is open for everyone to 'talk to senior management'.

  14. garwhale Bronze badge

    Seems like time for the company to lay off some managers - no wonder they don't like WFH. Cancel or sublet office leases.

  15. nijam Silver badge

    > ...Roblox is an innovation company and we needed to get back ...

    Excellent quote.

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