Activision Blizzard has reversed its decision (opens in new tab) to no longer require proof of vaccination from employees as part of its return-to-office plan. The company had announced its initial plan to employees on Thursday according to tweets from employees and reporting from Jason Schreier (opens in new tab) for Bloomberg.
Jessica Gonzalez, a founding organizer of the better ABK employee advocacy group, shared the initial email (opens in new tab) to employees announcing the end of the proof-of-vaccination requirement on Twitter.
In the email, Activision Blizzard chief administration officer Brian Bulatao attributes the decision to improving COVID numbers and alleged similar moves from other, unnamed businesses. Bulatao concluded by asserting "the benefits of in-person collaboration."
The response from Activision Blizzard employees was swift and largely negative. The situation surrounding Covid-19 remains fluid, with sub-variants and potential outbreaks already threatening (opens in new tab) the current drop in cases in the United States, leaving a move like this a potential safety hazard to employees as they're encouraged to return to office work.
Due to the new RTO policy around no longer mandating vaccination requirements in regards to the ongoing pandemic, a group of ABK employees will be conducting a walkout on Monday April 4 at 10am PDT. We have 3 demands:April 1, 2022
A Better ABK was threatening a walkout (opens in new tab) on Monday, April 4, when Bulatao sent out another email, reversing the decision and leaving vaccination requirements up to individual offices.
It's yet another flareup between Activision Blizzard leadership and its own employees, with the ongoing sexual harassment scandal (opens in new tab) informing these developments. Additionally, the wider debate behind major companies' return-to-office initiatives looms behind the granular question of proof-of-vaccination.
The pandemic era saw numerous delays in the games industry and companies in every sector of the economy experienced work-from-home growing pains. However, many workers have appreciated the comfort and work-life balance possibilities that came with the shift, especially as remote management practices have grown more refined.
At the same time, the leaders of many companies are eager to bring back a more traditional work environment, citing questions of efficiency and workplace culture alongside less-emphasized motivations such as long leases on or investment in office space, as well as easier employee surveillance.