Epic Games, the company behind the hugely popular and profitable battle royale game Fortnite, said earlier this week that it will discontinue its famous policy of giving employees a day off every other Friday. An unnamed insider told Kotaku that the abrupt changing of policy enraged employees, who were quoted in a recent piece by Bloomberg.
By giving employees alternate Fridays off, they were able to rest and recover from work done on previous days that had required overtime. Epic Game staff working on Fortnite, a game that is routinely updated, allegedly had to crunch to rush content to completion, according to a Polygon story from 2018. While having enough time off may help level the playing field in the office, an internal email acquired by Bloomberg shows that Epic’s Friday policy isn’t being used equally by all employees.
“Right now, we are seeing lots of Fridays off for deep work, and lots of people who must work Fridays anyways,” chief operating officer Daniel Vogel wrote about the policy in an email to staff. “This meant that many people were not benefiting from this policy equally.”
Unscheduled time for existing work will be replaced with “unstructured” time on Fridays, according to an Epic Games spokeswoman. This policy replaces Epic’s current practice of alternating Fridays off. Epic Games already shuts down for four weeks out of the year in addition to the personal time off days of personnel, according to the spokesman. The alternate Fridays off policy was always intended to be temporary, the spokesperson said.
According to a Bloomberg poll of 581 workers, the current policy of alternating Fridays off was approved by over 90% of employees, with about the same number of employees wishing to maintain the arrangement in the future.
As the two-year anniversary of the covid-19 epidemic approaches, businesses in the video game industry and beyond are scrambling to meet customer expectations for more flexible working arrangements. However, while some companies have hurried their staff back to the office, others have prolonged remote work, continued to provide flexible hours, or even cut the work week completely.
Epic Games’ decision to revert to a five-day work week following a month of a four-day work week comes from Bugsnax indie developer Young Horses. Eidos Montreal, the studio that created Guardians of the Galaxy, followed suit shortly after with an announcement that it will do the same. Around 500 people would lose time off while their wages remained same at the studio.
Despite the fact that many developers have had to postpone their games in the last two years because to Fortnite’s frequent upgrades, Bloomberg claims that an Epic employee opposed the company’s choice. During Epic’s trial with Apple earlier this year, CEO Tim Sweeny testified that the business earned gross sales of $5.1 billion last year.