Bungie’s decision last month to become a digital-first workplace came as a mild surprise, given that the video game developer is expanding its headquarters space in Bellevue, Wash., and recently leased two floors in downtown Seattle.
According to CEO Pete Parsons, the move to become a digital-first workplace won’t impact office expansion plans for Bungie, known for its massively-multiplayer first-person shooter Destiny 2.
“Making great games is all about empowering talented people,” Parsons said in an email to GeekWire. “We’ve heard loud and clear that our teams really benefit from the flexibility to choose where and how they work. We’re still going to offer amazing, employee-optional workspaces for our Bellevue and Seattle teams who can benefit from physical spaces, amenities, and specialized technology.”
“Our studios will be a place our teams want to spend time in,” Parsons continued. “Not have to.”
While many tech companies moved to hybrid or fully remote work without much of a hitch when the pandemic began, the shift was difficult for some gaming studios as it delayed production. But once companies helped get better tools and equipment to workers’ homes, productivity came back, Bloomberg reported.
Other gaming companies such as Ubisoft are also moving to a hybrid work format.
Bungie’s current Bellevue HQ is roughly 200,000 square feet, while its leased space in the downtown Seattle 2+U tower takes up another 60,000.
Bungie has now approved six U.S. states besides Washington for remote work, including California, Oregon, Illinois, and Texas.
The company had previously worked all-remote over the course of the last two years, and was able to ship the last Destiny 2 expansion, The Witch Queen, at the end of February as a fully remote studio. Bungie has approximately 1,100 employees, 93% of whom are in the Seattle area.
“We’re placing a bet that this is the right relationship with our employees going forward,” said Bungie Chief People Officer Holly Barbacovi.
It wasn’t right for Bungie, Barbacovi said, to mandate a return to the office, which has resulted in what she calls a “test-and-learn approach.” Bungie has developed good instrumentation to see how its employees are working, including a survey system that enables it to listen to its employees, new hires, and recruiters.
“I don’t think anyone has all the answers now,” Barbacovi said, “but the fact is that our relationship with work has irrevocably changed as a result of this pandemic. We have to experiment with what this new equilibrium will be.”
Bungie has hired its first set of employees for its first international office, in Amsterdam, and is currently in the process of deciding how it plans to use that office.
“We feel like we’ll be able to continue to do super high-quality games with an increasingly remote workforce,” said Barbacovi.