Hello and Happy Sunday!
Hope your week was a good one. It was an eventful one here, with my wife having to have three teeth pulled on Friday due to some forthcoming orthodontia. Suffice to say, I’ve been doing double duty of husband and nurse, while trying to remember all of the soft foods which she can eat.
Thankfully, she seems to be improving day by day, hour by hour, so I think by this time next week, she’ll be like normal. Until then, my chipmunk-cheeked bride gets to subsist on smoothies and pain pills.
Now, onto the things…
Since March 2020, much of the white collar world has been working from home, due to this…you know, global pandemic thing. Since January 2020, I’ve been working from home. Since I work for a company which was 100% remote from the beginning anyway.
What’s particularly interesting — especially as COVID rates start going back up — is seeing how the world is reacting to trying to go back to the office. And as it turns out, shock of shocks, workers and management have very different opinions about it.
Ed Zitron for The Atlantic investigates.
Some of the people loudly calling for a return to the office are not the same people who will actually be returning to the office regularly. The old guard’s members feel heightened anxiety over the white-collar empires they’ve built, including the square footage of real estate they’ve leased and the number of people they’ve hired. Earlier this year, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, rolled out an uneven return-to-office plan for its more than 130,000 employees—the majority of workers must soon come back to the office three days a week, while others are permitted to keep working exclusively from home. One senior executive at the company has even been allowed to work remotely from New Zealand.
Remote work lays bare many brutal inefficiencies and problems that executives don’t want to deal with because they reflect poorly on leaders and those they’ve hired. Remote work empowers those who produce and disempowers those who have succeeded by being excellent diplomats and poor workers, along with those who have succeeded by always finding someone to blame for their failures. It removes the ability to seem productive (by sitting at your desk looking stressed or always being on the phone), and also, crucially, may reveal how many bosses and managers simply don’t contribute to the bottom line.
On July 21st, the State of California shocked the world, suing popular video game developer/publisher Activision Blizzard, accusing them of fostering a “frat boy” culture in which female employees are allegedly subjected to unequal pay and sexual harassment.
Readers of this newsletter from its inception are probably not surprised to hear of the less-than-savory things which go on in the world of video game development, but this lawsuit was an inflection point, where the rubber hit the road of a massive group doing something about it, taking on one of the industry’s biggest developers, behind titles like Call of Duty, OverWatch and World of Warcraft.
This week, workers at the company decided to rise up and strike, and Kat Bailey at IGN dug into the trenches, speaking with countless employees, current and former, to understand the awfulness which has occurred behind closed doors. It’s a rough read, but worthwhile to understand what workers in that industry (and more specifically, in that company) face.
Many Activision Blizzard employees were unsurprised when the DFEH lawsuit appeared. The investigation had been conducted over the course of two years, and some employees had been interviewed for hours as the department had built its case. But it was still a shock to see it all there in black and white, and then to see Activision Blizzard’s leadership almost immediately dismiss the allegations as “distorted” and “false” descriptions of Blizzard’s past.
“It hurt to see it all written out,” one woman within Blizzard told IGN. “A lot of us have known about a lot of these instances, whether because we experienced them or we knew people who had. A lot of times the women within the company would start to band together at certain moments to protect each other.”
Feelings like these are common among women at Activision Blizzard right now. For some, it is dredging up past pain; others are finding themselves reexamining old interactions in a new light. Few seem particularly surprised, especially those in the service departments — QA, marketing, customer service. As IGN has previously reported, Blizzard has tended to treat developers as special while the various support services have suffered the brunt of cutbacks and layoffs. This has put additional pressure on everyone, but especially marginalized groups.
Don’t forget to hydrate!
It seems…maybe some of us did not. And now we’re obsessed. Or so says MM Carrigan at Vice:
Millennials have a weird relationship with H20. For the first half of our lives, we never drank it, and then suddenly it was all we drank. In June, as the heat domes began to form over portions of the country, I discovered this was a common experience among my older millennial and younger Gen X peers after I joked on Twitter that our parents didn’t give us water.
The replies poured in immediately: “I survived on fruit punch and second-hand smoke,” one user replied.” A friend of mine told me she had never talked about it with anyone, as though it were a secret—how she thought it was just her parents that didn’t give her water.
Stay cool out there. The hottest days of the Summer are here, and sadly, those COVID numbers are going up. So stay in, turn on the AC, and be safe.
See you next week.