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Union criticizes Rockstar decision to call workers back to the office all week

Developer withdrew remote working provisions
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Rockstar Games, the developer of the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption series, on February 28, 2024, announced that its workers will have to return to the office five days a week starting on April 15, 2024. Opportunities to work from home, which became a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, have become rarer at the studio ever since the crisis ended. Earlier, Rockstar mandated that workers had to be in the office for at least three days a week.

On behalf of its members working at Rockstar, the British IWGB Game Workers Union criticized this decision, citing some of them as calling the move “reckless decision making” and accusing the studio of “broken promises.”

That accusation refers to an email allegedly sent out by Rockstar to all employees last year on the occasion of calling workers back to the office for three days a week, which seems to have stated: “This isn’t our first step to 5 days a week. No one wants to go back to the old way of working.”

Rockstar Games logo on black background.

Rockstar Games is giving workers six weeks before they have to return to full-time office work.

“Workers criticizing the move have pointed to the widely accepted benefits of remote work, and highlighted the difficulties that this decision will pose to employees with disabilities, care responsibilities, or health issues,” the union stated. “Additional concerns have been raised by those who have moved their lives further away from the studios or made adjustments around their families that would now need to be repealed in under 6 weeks to comply with the demands.”

According to the organization, Rockstar management “are refusing to engage with workers, and say that on the 15th of April they will be pulling the plug on their remote access technology to shut down any possibility of continued home working, citing security concerns and reduced productivity without providing employees with any supporting evidence.”

One anonymous union member cited in the statement described the fear among workers that the company may not be done breaking promises: “After so many broken promises we now fear management may even be paving the way for a return to toxic ‘crunch’ practices. Senior leadership need to rethink their reckless decision making and engage with their staff to find an arrangement that works for everyone.”

Another criticized the lack of communication between management and those impacted by the changes: “As usual, there has been zero consultation with us: the people who these policy changes most affect.” They expressed concern about having less time to spend with their family due to the change, as they’d have to stay in the office for longer hours due to having meetings with teams from around the world, which was much easier to handle from home.

“The workers in the IWGB Game Workers Union at Rockstar are pushing for transparency over pay and promotions, a healthy and inclusive workplace culture, and work life balance centered around what each worker needs. It is unacceptable that Rockstar leadership have gone back on their word time and time again and have ignored the workers' requests for basic working conditions,” union chair Austin Kelmore stated.

Rockstar is currently working on the highly anticipated GTA 6, for which it released its first trailer last year. Just before the video was published, leaked images from the project emerged, which may partly fuel the company’s security concerns.

Many established studios have cut back on remote work opportunities in the last few months, whereas many newly founded development companies have embraced the concept, openly advertising their remote-first concept in order to attract talented workers.