Over the weekend, Apex Legends games director Chad Grenier responded to a Glassdoor review by an employee over the working conditions at Respawn Entertainment during the ongoing global pandemic.
The review essentially boiled down to employees still expected to meet tight deadlines, despite them having to adjust to working from home and coping with the added stress that goes with it. In his response to the Apex Legends subReddit which brought it up, Grenier said that he takes a lot of blame for how the employee feels:
I’ll chime in on this because a lot of this falls on me as the leader of the Apex team, but I truly believe Respawn has it’s employee’s best interest and health in mind, and always has. Transitioning to WFH all of a sudden during a pandemic was indeed very hard on the team, took some getting accustomed to, and we all certainly had never gone through this before so we’re all in some uncharted territory.
He went on to say that even though they expected deadlines to be met, the mental health and wellbeing was always very important for the leadership at Respawn, encouraging people to come forward if things were getting too much from them:
“As the Apex team leader I was vocal every day telling people to only work as much as they can. This was reiterated by Studio leadership, and EA leadership as well. Many have kids at home since schools are closed, or maybe their work environment isn’t comfortable, they don’t have a suitable home PC, or they have to take care of sick family members. Respawn and EA put many benefits in place to make sure employees were being taken care of. Unlimited paid time off if you were not feeling well (physically or mentally) or taking care of someone, reimbursement for any purchases to make working from home easier or more comfortable, additional pay each paycheck to cover increased energy or internet bills, flex work hours, the list goes on. Regarding deadlines and delays, I was very vocal to the team about their deadlines. Like a broken record I continuously asked that people speak up to their managers or producers if they will not be able to get their work done on time without crunching. Delays would be ok, we just need to know one is needed.”
He finally praised the dev team at Respawn, saying that even though people are encouraged to say if things are too tough for them, or they can’t make a deadline, nobody wanted to let anybody down.
“I’m definitely not trying to say this person who wrote the review is wrong, and I’m not defending myself against the review. They’re absolutely right in how they felt, and they were clearly working too much, despite being told it was ok to miss their deadlines. The problem is not with the intent of Respawn’s leadership, we’ve got everyone’s best interest in mind. The one thing I’ve learned about the team during this pandemic is that the team is filled with a bunch of rock stars and do-ers. Nobody wants to be the person to raise their hand and say they’re not going to hit their deadline. Nobody wants to be the one who got a feature delayed. Nobody wants to let their teammates down, or let the fans down.”
As somebody who had to adjust to a working from home environment, I can fully relate to this situation here, both for Respawn Entertainment and the employee. Many employers and companies have put structures in place to try and support staff during a very challenging time. The challenge isn’t just for the employees, but also for the companies who had to put these things in place on very short notice.
It is good that the management team at Respawn Entertainment acknowledges the issues, and hopefully they can get a solution that works for everyone.