A new report claims that Ubisoft Montreal has mandated that its employees return to office work, despite earlier promises that most roles could remain entirely work-from-home. Many workers responded with concern or outrage at the new policy.
The report comes from IGN and is based on Ubisoft’s internal postings and documents, as well as interviews with anonymous employees. According to the report, Ubisoft promised in internal documents that “100% remote work will be possible depending on various criteria, such as productivity and impact on the team, as well as the nature of the work being done.” Many employees accepted jobs with Ubisoft or made major life decisions, like buying a home, on the basis that they could continue to work from home as long as they held their position at the company.
Beginning on September 11, this policy changed. All employees must now work at least two days out of the week from the office. Employees immediately brought up a variety of concerns such as noisy calls in an open-office environment, transit costs, a lack of accessibility accommodations, and the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Exceptions can only be made through an internal process and once other options have been explored. Allegedly, Ubisoft’s system is overbooked with requests and ineffective at providing solutions.
Ubisoft provided the following statement to IGN: “Like many companies in entertainment and tech, we are asking our colleagues to come back to the office for key moments identified by each team. We are convinced that the synergy, in-person discussions, rapid iterations, and a sense of belonging that happens more in person will help us be more effective and agile together, and achieve our business goals.
“First announced early in June, the hybrid mode goes into place on Monday, September 11, and we are accompanying our colleagues through these changes, giving them additional flexibility over the next eight weeks or more to adapt. Open and ongoing conversations in addition to extensive individual accommodation and arrangements are currently underway to ease this transition and the impact on everyone’s well-being, which remains our priority to continue to deliver great games.”
Many employee comments reportedly also surfaced a lack of trust in the company. Earlier this year, Ubisoft had multiple rounds of layoffs and canceled various projects. Accusations of sexual misconduct across the company led to some staff departures and public statements. However, some workers have alleged that these measures have been ineffective stopgaps. According to the report, some employees speculated that Ubisoft changed its work-from-home policy to force employees to quit, cutting costs without the fees and bad press of layoffs.
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