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Activision Demands Five-Day Return to Office for Some Employees

Activision-Blizzard told its Quality Assurance (QA) employees in El Segundo, Austin, and Minneapolis that they must return to the office full-time effective January 1, 2024. These employees worked remotely during the pandemic and have been on a hybrid schedule since early 2023. Activision says the QA team "is much more effective on in-office workdays than on remote workdays." The QA employees work primarily on the Call of Duty game. For employees not interested in the full-time back-to-the-office schedule, Activision is offering a one-time separation package with a minimum of 12 weeks' pay, a 2023 bonus, 12 months of healthcare, and an unused vacation payout. No other Activision departments will be required to return to the office full-time.

The ABK Workers Alliance (the unionized workers within Activision) oppose the mandate. According to the Alliance, many QA employees have been seeking accommodations based on “disability, financial issues, or other factors” that would allow them to be fully remote. These workers say Activision denied their requests entirely or offered them in-office accommodations that did not meet their needs. The union also pointed out the company hired many of these employees during total lockdown, so they may live far from any of the offices. ABK is calling Activision's decision a "soft layoff."  IGN interviewed one employee who believes the decision to call back just the QA division is inequitable and contradicts the DE&I values it espouses. Another employee asserts that Call of Duty set sales records while the staff was fully remote, thus challenging the company's assertion that the QA division needs to be in person. Activision told IGN that it is focused on finding appropriate, reasonable accommodations for team members experiencing barriers.