Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao (above) emailed all employees of the company earlier today, informing them that “effective immediately” the publisher was removing the mandate for employees working from offices to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and hopes to have everyone working in-person again in the coming weeks.
Update: 4/1/22, 5:09 p.m. ET: A group of Activision Blizzard employees is planning the company’s fourth walkout on April 4 in response to the new return to office plan, ABK Workers Alliance announced in a statement Friday afternoon.
The employees are demanding the Call of Duty publisher immediately put its vaccine requirement back into effect and allow remote work as a permanent option. “The decision to work remote or in office should be made by each individual employee,” the group writes.
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The controversial decision to lift the vaccine mandate was apparently made last minute and without being run by employees or studio management, a representative for ABK told Polygon. “This reversal puts people at risk for infection. I and many other employees are angry that our company is pushing toward mandatory returns to office with this restriction lifted,” they said.
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Original story follows.
Bulatao says that as “businesses and other indoor venues across the U.S. lift vaccine requirements...we feel it is important to align our site protocols with local guidance.” The primary reason for this is clearly a desire for employees to return to the “benefits of in-person collaboration” as early as June, though some employees also see the move as a chance to monitor staff more closely as part of management’s union-busting efforts.
There’s also a safety risk involved; as the email says, “we know the situation is ever-evolving and we will continue to monitor the risks for COVID-19 in all areas where we operate,” which seems like a massive understatement when the New York Times is running stories like “A New Wave of Covid-19 Is Coming,” in part because the full vaccination rate among American adults is still a relatively poor 66%.
While the email says the company will “act quickly – and pivot if necessary – if we see a future spike in cases,” for those who cannot return to the office for health reasons, or simply choose not to in the face of the dangers involved, the email says “you may have personal circumstances you’d like to discuss with your manager and HRBP.” We’ve contacted Activision Blizzard for more information on this point.
You can read the email below, first shared by ABK Worker’s Alliance’s Jessica Gonzalez:
March 31, 2022
Bcc: U.S. employees
Everyone, As conditions improve and we prepare to welcome more of you back to our offices, I’d like to share an update regarding our vaccine policy. Effective immediately, we are lifting our vaccine mandate for all U.S. employees. This means that employees no longer need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to the office.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen businesses and other indoor venues across the U.S. lift vaccine requirements, and we feel it is important to align our site protocols with local guidance. While this change in policy addresses our current state in the pandemic, we know the situation is ever-evolving and we will continue to monitor the risks for COVID-19 in all areas where we operate. I encourage you to review these FAQs, which should help answer your questions.
Although proof of vaccination is no longer required to return to the office, we ask that you continue to confirm your vaccination status in Workday by following this link. Having this information readily available will allow us to act quickly – and pivot if necessary – if we see a future spike in cases.
We recognize that returning to the office looks different across our business units and even within our business units. We also recognize that different sites are in various stages of return. While this change may not have an immediate impact on those who are still working remotely, we wanted to communicate this now so that you have sufficient time to prepare.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll receive additional updates on what returning to the office looks like from your Business Unit or Site Leader. While we look forward to your return, we recognize you may have personal circumstances you’d like to discuss with your manager and HRBP.
As we define what the future of work looks like, I want to remind us all of the benefits of in-person collaboration. In order to ensure we all have a safe workspace where we can gather with colleagues and innovate together, it is essential we stay committed to protecting ourselves and others.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this time.