Epic Games retracts a policy that granted extra days off to employees

    
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why does this continue

The 40-hour, five-day work week is something of a de facto standard for a lot of office jobs, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted a lot of business’ thinking on how to operate safely. One such adjustment was made by Fortnite developer Epic Games, which had granted its employees every other Friday off. Recently, however, the studio decided to rescind this policy, claiming that “many people were not benefiting from this policy equally” and that the measure was always meant to be temporary.

However, a survey of 581 employees found that 93% called the alternating Fridays off “extremely beneficial,” and almost 90% of employees said they wanted to keep Fridays off as a standard; only 61% of respondents said they felt worried, guilty, or stressed when taking separate vacation days.

Devs at the studio reportedly filled an internal Slack chat channel with pleas for management to reconsider the decision, as many of them found the alternate Fridays off to be recuperative to their mental health, allowing them to be better employees and better parents.

An Epic Games spokesperson told Kotaku that the company would be replacing alternating Fridays off with a new policy of no work meetings on any Friday, describing these days more as “unstructured” time to do existing work. The spokesperson also cited the fact that employees already get extra time off four weeks out of the year, when the studio shuts down for two week breaks in the summer and winter. That said, it does bring up a question that has been spreading across the games industry and offices overall: whether a 32-hour work week can be just as productive as the old standard.

sources: Bloomberg, Kotaku
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Grave Knight

Something, something unionize.

Freddy
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Freddy

On one hand, the “study hall” like Friday seems kinda chill and laid back. But on the other, why not just give the day off. What possibly could be more pressing? What skin kids would like buy next week?

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Scorp Gang

The place where I work lets us out early and gives us full time every Friday during the Summer Months. It might seem small but it’s a great feeling to have an early start on the weekend. Come home, take a nap and get up ready to roll!

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Ashfyn Ninegold

For a number of years I worked a 4 day week. I worked only 4 hours less than those who worked full time because I worked longer hours the other 4 days. In all the years that I worked this schedule 1) I never received a call from work on my day off; and 2) I never received a complaint that any project I did was either late or poorly done.

How could this possibly be? Because 1) people adjusted their expectations to my work schedule and either figured things out themselves or waited until Monday; and 2) I was far more productive during the four days I worked because I wanted to be there and working. And lastly, I really needed that extra day off because of how stressful my job was.

There is zero, 0, nada magic about a 5-day workweek.

So, Epic Games is punishing its hourly employees because its salaried employees can’t say no. Instead, they come up with the lame “no meeting” Fridays, which really only benefits people who go to a lot of meetings (that is, salaried employees).

Gotta love how “not benefiting” the highly paid becomes “only benefiting” the highly paid.

We’ll see how long that lasts before the Obsessives blow that out of the water as well.

Whoever runs their HR is a tool.

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Harbinger_Kyleran

I’d love to have a 40 hour work week, currently doing about 43 which is the lowest in my 18 years with the firm I work for.

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Utakata

…good for you!

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styopa

I’m shocked, positively shocked, that when surveyed most employees found an extra day off beneficial and wanted to keep it.

Shocked, I tell you.

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Bruno Brito

claiming that “many people were not benefiting from this policy equally”

Uh…then make it so everyone benefits from this policy equally? The fuck is this argument.

This is the company that tried to pull a “we have the moral highground” act on their own players. At the end of the day, as scummy as the rest of them all.

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styopa

And how, pray tell, would they do that?

Here’s my guess: the people who had actual responsibilities to get work done and deadlines, worked those days anyway.

They took the job on the premise of working 5 day weeks. A temporary measure was emplaced to help people through a tough time. Now people are whinging because the temporary thing is being withdrawn.

Simple: you can have every other Friday off for a 10% pay cut.

Quick question: the next time the company thinks “oh this is tough for our employees, maybe we should just gift them some time off” what do you think their thought process will be?

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Jeremy Barnes

We have unlimited PTO and flexible work hours. Work from home is entirely optional (so everybody works from home now except for Taco Thursdays). I’m pretty sure people are actually only working around 30 hours a week now as we don’t ‘clock in’. So the next time it comes up, I’m pretty sure we’re thinking about loosening things further… with no paycuts.

This idea that people *have* to work 5 days a week from 9 – 5 is archaic and about control, not productivity.

People are whining because the temporary thing turned out to likely be a net positive thing for the company and the employees until some executive figured out that nobody is paying attention to him anymore so he wants to force people back into the office so he has a captive audience to spew at..

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styopa

“… until some executive figured out that nobody is paying attention to him anymore…”
Very possibly.
Or…would you accept the theoretical possibility that MAYBE someone in charge looked at the metrics and in fact maybe stuff wasn’t exactly getting done quite as well as before?

Or no, I suppose it’s simpler just to demonize people in charge. It’s not like they’re ever people just ALSO trying to do their jobs as best they can?

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Jeremy Barnes

Sorry, it conflicts with your worldview, but I’ve found I’m getting more from my developers under the new conditions. Not just in straight up ‘points in the sprint’, but them being more aware and catching bugs and bad design before we push it out.

Once you let go that people should work in the way that you want them to work and when you want them to work and focus on if they’re getting the job done then you find that you’re getting the ‘better’ hours out of them rather than pushing them to get that 40th hour of the week where they’re tired and finished.

I’ve found that bad management tends to worry about those type of things and often thinks that they’re necessary.

I can tell you that a lot of companies around here are going this direction and there’s many studies about shorter work weeks being more productive going back over 30 years. I’d love to see a study that says you get more productivity from longer work weeks.

It’s why overtime is such a bad idea for hourly employees. You get drastically reduced productivity for increased pay.

A lot of your corporate drone management is unable to process that information because it means giving up control and they’d rather have reduced productivity and pay more company dollars to maintain their personal control.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

The problem is, the 32 hour work week only actually works in certain sectors – mostly white collar. Same as the work at home scenario many people have been doing the last year and a half. These things simply don’t work for most blue collar sector jobs.

Personally speaking, 40 hours isn’t always enough to get everything done at my job that needs to get done. Overtime is also not an option. So a 32 hour work week would be a hindrance to me and not a benefit, both in terms of work load and take home pay.

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Utakata

…that line of logic worked so well on The Bounty. /s

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styopa

Yes, because working voluntarily in a highly paid office environment in the US in 2021 is PRECISELY LIKE press-ganged sailors in the British navy legally subject to punishment up to execution more or less at the whim of a dictatorial captain?
They are practically the same thing!
Let me guess, you also agree with multimillion dollar athletes claiming they’re “slaves”?

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Bruno Brito

Let me guess, you also agree with multimillion dollar athletes claiming they’re “slaves”?

What?

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Jeremy Barnes

someone has gone off the deep end and is now trying to bring is as many things as possible to try shore up a weak argument.

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Bruno Brito

Going off the deep end means making sense. I don’t know what that was, but it went straight through the end and landed in a abyss of nonsense.

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Jeremy Barnes

Going off the deep end does not mean making sense. It means the opposite.

Going off the Deep End:
– give way immediately to an emotional outburst, especially of anger.
– To become crazy or irrational.

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/go+off+the+deep+end

This is something that happens when bad management is challenged about their bad management.

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Bruno Brito

What i meant was: even people off the deep end make sense. He didn’t.

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Utakata

I was going to answer that, but I suspect it will be lined up for the Breehammer cleanup tomorrow. So I am not going to bother, lol… :)

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Bruno Brito

And how, pray tell, would they do that?

Here’s how: Change the normal work hours to not count friday, even for execs . Epic won’t go under because one less day. It’s a multibillion dollar company. If you need staff for friday, saturday and sunday, hire separate staff for that.

It’s even better because splitting the work, means that both groups will be well rested and having good performance, and Epic can pay more people. Win-win.

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Nathan Aldana

“the poor should just work till theyre dead and be happy for it”

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somber_bliss

The games industry, heck sll industries, need to just unionize already. We, the consumer, can’t do much about it other than stop paying which is pretty damaging.

That being said, I have stopped all Blizz products and services because of all their corporate crap and poor game design that just isn’t fun.

Gaming in general feels so bad lately though. I really should find a new hobby.

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styopa

Yeah, it’s pretty cruel for a company to expect people to work the days they agreed to when taking the job.
How unreasonable!

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TanneriteEnthusiast

This is off the back end of crunch where the employees worked 70+ hour weeks regularly. I think you understand that you’re making a dishonest argument, it’s just weird to do so when everyone else understands the point that’s being made.

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styopa

Where does it at all imply that this was after a crunch? I must have missed that. My point isn’t dishonest, it’s just not inventing/assuming context outside what was written.

To be clear, I think the ‘implied requirement’ of crunch times, working Fraturdays, all that is completely naked worker-exploitative bullshit in the industry that should end as well.

If I give my employees a Friday off unexpectedly for free, and then they come back saying now they should get that every month (or whatever) I’m going to tell them to suck it.
Oh, and never offer them another unexpected nice thing again. That’s why we can’t have nice things.

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TanneriteEnthusiast

Epic was one of the central figures during the upheavals over crunch, the implication is unneeded because it’s common knowledge. You’re speaking as if you are a business owner, I am as well. Perhaps ranching is a different environment than your sector, but I couldn’t imagine not being willing to hear concerns or suggestions from my employees on how to better enable them to produce and enjoy the work they do. Much less find the need to retroactively punish employees for expressing benefits that they found from a system that I initiated.

The baby boomer mentality of “you will be happy with what I give you” is thankfully dying in this historic labor market, it has been a joy to watch more and more people with that mentality closing up shop during the week because they can’t find people to work for them.

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styopa

“I couldn’t imagine not being willing to hear concerns or suggestions from my employees on how to better enable them to produce and enjoy the work they do.”

I’m not sure what ranching you do, but in my relatively brief experience with sheep ranching, there are some things that ABSOLUTELY have to be done according to a certain schedule. If you gave Billy last Friday off because you could spare him, but this week is shearing and you need everyone there 20 hours a day to get through your herd, and he said “Well you gave me last Friday off, it’s inhumane that you don’t allow me to take it off this week!?!? What a tyrant!” …what would your response be?

And kudos to you, ranching is hard d*mned work.

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TanneriteEnthusiast

Yes, the vast majority of the work in ranching is something that happens on a tightly maintained schedule. You’re correct, it is an extremely physically demanding line of work, which is why it is critical to have rested bodies and fresh minds working pasture. The scenario you’re offering isn’t really applicable, this wasn’t a one time thing that was dolled out, it was a resolution provided because many of their teams were still producing content at the same pace as they were before remote work started. This is not a standard that was maintained in many places elsewhere in the industry, as the slew of game delays has made rather evident.

So a fairer comparison would be me promising the days off knowing full well that the vet and farrier are coming out in a month on a friday, and then a few days before the appointment calling everyone in. At that point If Billy is asking me why I’m calling people in on their day off, I’d explain that I failed to properly plan and would apologize profusely, knowing full well that he’s already given me four good grueling days. I’ve found myself in situations like these, and because I didn’t treat them as if they owed me for the pleasure of coming to work my land, I’ve always found willing coverage.

Even then, the difference here is that there is no critical living thing that requires game developers to work those extra hours. It has been proven time and time again in game development that unfavorable working conditions produce worse products. While I may be physically exhausted at the end of my day, I would not dare to guess at the mental exhaustion developers must face at the end of theirs. Much as if my employees came to me and explained that they were having trouble physically keeping up, I’m going to trust Epic’s employees when they say the same for mental fatigue.

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Bruno Brito

The baby boomer mentality of “you will be happy with what I give you” is thankfully dying in this historic labor market, it has been a joy to watch more and more people with that mentality closing up shop during the week because they can’t find people to work for them.

Hear, hear!

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Utakata

When agreed to in good faith, it’s certainly reasonable. All bets are off when the employers start messing around with that though. /shrug

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Sleepy

The vast majority of employees, over the long term, aren’t productive beyond about 40 hours per week. When you factor in reduced productivity, illness, burnout, the time spent making and rectifying mistakes, mental health issues and costs, rehiring and retraining costs, it quite simply isn’t cost effective to push your staff beyond an average eight hour day.

If your organisation does push you to work more, they using a model whereby they burn through staff, discard them and then hire new blood. Some organisations do this deliberately, some because they just assume ‘hey, this is a tough industry’ and that it’s their only option.

None of this ends well for the average employee, and the really frustrating thing is it just doesn’t make good business sense.

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Ken from Chicago

If they had every other Friday off, wouldn’t that be an average 36-hour work week? or a 72-hour biweekly work period?

That said, yes, I’d prefer a 32-hour, 4-day work week. Most businesses in town are only open during the week when I’m at work so if I need to see the doctor or get an oil change or do any business other than grocery store or dining, I gotta take time off work, since they are closed on the weekends.