Ubisoft Montreal – the studio behind the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Far Cry 5 – has been accused of leaving staff in “turmoil” after it reportedly reneged on promises that “100% remote work would be possible”, forcing all 4,000 of its workers back to the office for a “minimum” of two days a week, as of 11th September.
Back in June 2021, Ubisoft announced it would be adopting a “hybrid and tailored approach to work arrangements” where staff would be able “to balance in-office work with work from home”. However, according to a new report by IGN, Ubisoft Montreal staff were repeatedly told they could remain 100% remote long-term, leading many to make significant life decision or accept jobs at the company based around these assurances.
“100% remote work will be possible depending on various criteria,” reads an internal Ubisoft document seen by IGN and detailed in its report, “such as productivity and impact on the team, as well as the nature of the work being done.”
That all changed in August, however, when (according to a separate account by a former Ubisoft employee on social media) Ubisoft Montreal leadership met with team managers, insisting all employees must return to the office for a minimum of two days a week as of 11th September, “no exceptions”. The only leeway would be an eight-week allowance for any employee that could “prove” they needed time to adjust.
In messages posted to Ubisoft’s intranet, as seen by IGN, the response to the announcement was “almost all” negative, with some employees angry at the policy U-turn after buying a house or making other commitments based on the belief full-time home working would be possible, while others raised health concerns, and even issues surrounding the state of the office.
Ubisoft is reportedly encouraging all staff to speak to their managers in order to find solutions, but IGN cites internal documentation saying exemptions to the two-day return will “only be considered once all other solutions have been explored.”
In a statement provided to IGN, Ubisoft insisted, “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.”
Ubisoft also insists staff were informed of the policy change to a hybrid working model in June this year – although the employee account on social media claims staff were only told to expect details of the incoming changes at this point, which did not materialise until late-August.
As noted by IGN, a similar forced return-to-office policy at Activision Blizzard earlier this year was said to have contributed to a significant staff exodus; it remains to be seen whether Ubisoft – which has already faced a reckoning over its toxic work environment in recent years and has been undergoing a “strategic reorganisation”, resulting in a number of staff layoffs, following disappointing financial results – will see a similar response from its own employees.
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