- Ubisoft Montreal faces employee backlash as around 4,000 staff members are mandated to return to the office after three years of remote work.
- Employees express frustration and disappointment, citing broken promises from management regarding remote work flexibility.
- Ubisoft is encouraging staff to talk to their managers to alleviate the impact of this new directive.
In a move mirroring that of many other widely criticized companies, around 4,000 employees of Ubisoft Montreal have been ordered to return to office for the first time in three years. The staff reportedly aren't too happy about the new directive with some calling out management for breaking promises.
According to a new IGN report, Ubisoft Montreal announced that employees would be returning to the office starting September 11. The report indicates that since the new directive was implemented, the studio's intranet has been getting swamped with employee posts that range from mild concern to outright anger. Most of the comments were unsurprisingly negative.
As a result of the new mandate, the studio behind Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Far Cry 5 was reportedly in "turmoil" as most of the staff felt that management went back on its word that "100% remote work would be possible." The directive reportedly requires staff to return to the office for a minimum of two days a week.
Ubisoft announced back in June 2021 that it was a "hybrid and tailored approach to work arrangements" allowing staff to be able "to balance in-office work with work from home". Ubisoft Montreal employees were repeatedly told that they could work 100% remotely long term which led staff to make significant life decisions or accept roles within the studio based on these promises.
According to a report, an internal memo from the company promised staff a "hybrid, flexible working environment" where "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."
Everything changed in August when Ubisoft Montreal reportedly met with team managers, issuing a directive for all employees to return to the office for a minimum of two days starting September 11th with "no exceptions." The only latitude given was an eight-week allowance for staff who could "prove" that they needed sufficient time to adjust to the new work arrangement.
Ubisoft is encouraging staff to raise concerns to their managers to find solutions for issues with the new mandate. Management is currently working to ease the transition and impact on the well-being of staff members through extensive individual accommodation and arrangements.
This is, of course, just a thin veneer of corporate bullshit and blame shifting, since an internal document reportedly states that exemptions to the return-to-office arrangement will "only be considered once all other solutions have been explored."
"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," Ubisoft said in a statement to IGN, in an attempt to justify its archaic and awfully predictable violation of what is promised its employees.
"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."
It adds, "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."
It remains to be seen how this new directive will impact productivity within the studio. Hopefully, this new directive doesn't do more harm to the already struggling publisher - or maybe it should, as a cautionary tale. Ubisoft has been trying to return to its former standing after a series of flops, delays, and game cancellations. Stabbing its workers in the back doesn't seem like the best strategy.