Activision-Blizzard Lifts Vaccine Mandate Ahead of Return to Office [UPDATE]

This is the definition of counterproductive.

Activision-Blizzard apparently thinks the pandemic is over and is lifting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its American employees. All while the company at large is looking to return its operations to its offices after working from home during the pandemic.

News of this trickled out on social media yesterday, as employees began posting about the lifted mandate because it wasn’t noted as something workers had to keep under wraps. Some argued that anyone applying to work at the company should have this information going in, thus it should be public knowledge. Following this, Jessica Gonzalez, an ex-employee of Activision-Blizzard, posted the entirety of the email sent to those currently on staff from Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao on Twitter. The full email reads as follows:

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 the 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 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.

Well, this sucks. Activision-Blizzard employees are going through enough right now with the fallout of the company’s ongoing legal troubles regarding its toxic workplace culture, studios under its umbrella unionizing, and management that has allowed harassment to happen on their watch. Now they have to worry about exposure to COVID because vaccines are no longer required and the company is starting to pull people back to the office. Returning to the office while actively removing a major protocol that keeps its employees safe is exactly how you get a new spike in cases. Fuck this.

Update: As a result of Activision-Blizzard lifting its vaccine mandate while attempting to bring workers back into the office, workers are planning a walkout on Monday, April 4.

ABetterABK, a central hub for workers within the company to organize and speak about all of the above issues going on at the company, posted to its official Twitter that a group of employees will begin the walkout on Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific. The group has three demands:

1. An immediate reversal to lifting the vaccine requirement

2. Remote work should be offered as a permanent solution

3. The decision to work remote or in office should be made by each individual employee

Update: Ahead of the walkout, Bulatao has conceded that individual studios under Activision-Blizzard will be allowed to choose their own vaccine requirements. Blizzard Senior UI Engineer Valentine Powell posted about the development on their personal Twitter account, which was shared by the ABetterABK account, as well. The walkout is still planned for Monday, as the issues regarding remote work have yet to be resolved, and several companies under the Activision-Blizzard umbrella still haven’t reinstated the vaccine mandate.