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Take-Two CEO says COVID-19 could spark long-term change in remote work

Strauss Zelnick: "A lot of us who were skeptical about remote work are going to be less skeptical about it"

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick isn't concerned that the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will hurt the overall gaming business, but he does believe the outbreak will force many companies to permanently rethink stances on remote work.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference today, Zelnick was asked about both the immediate effects of the coronavirus outbreak on business, and what he thought the long-term consequences would be.

Zelnick responded that aside from the already-announced delay of the Nintendo Switch version of The Outer Worlds due to the port studio's location in China, Take-Two remained unaffected by the situation.

"Any time people are sick or have tragically lost their lives, that's a more important topic than any we're covering today," he said. "In terms of business continuity, we're not concerned. In terms of our consumer, we're not concerned. And we have the ability to work remotely if it comes down to that. And I don't believe it will."

Later, he did concede that "markets may take a real hit" and "things will slow down," but concluded that "it also will pass," comparing the situation in the US to regular flu outbreaks in terms of its effects on both individuals and businesses.

Zelnick was then asked whether or not increased remote work would affect productivity.

"They're going to have to find a way to be just as productive at home," he said. "Actually, I think one of the things that may come out of this if it's as widespread as I believe it will be, one unexpected consequence is a lot of us who were skeptical about remote work are going to be less skeptical about it.

"I'm one of them by the way. I'm not a big believer in remote work. But I think I may be surprised. I think you are going to see a significant change, maybe a long-lasting change, in business travel.

"Is [remote work] as effective as being face-to-face? I actually don't think so. But also, every one of you [addressing the conference audience] lost productivity getting here and returning from here, and the time that is less productive here. I'm not sure. We may be very surprised coming out of this."

COVID-19 has already forced numerous shifts in gaming business travel and events, most notably the indefinite postponement of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this month.

Yesterday, the ESA said it was "actively assessing" the situation around E3 after the city of Los Angeles declared a state of emergency, but the conference is currently still planned to go forward in June.

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Latest comments (2)

colin merrick Engineer/Artist 3 months ago
To be honest it would be great to have more remote or partial remote jobs as I can’t relocate at the moment with family commitments and so my job hunting has a very small affordable commuting distance that I have to offset against potential salary.
I would love the opportunity to work at any studio wherever it was on a remote or partial remote basis it would allow me to do the job I love and not be constrained by my location.
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Lucas Liaskos Lead Community Manager, Social Point3 months ago
Our ultra shredded CEO has spoken! :D

On a serious note, personally I believe there are good and bad things associated with working remotely.

For parents with small kids like myself, it might be a bit trickier working from home because it means you must find a quiet space or isolate yourself somewhere in the house in order to do work.

The positives however are rather interesting

1) less office noise
2) ability to focus on a specific task, finish it and move to the next one without any distractions
3) We will now see how many of those meetings could have been "just an email". We will host video chats and video conferences only when absolutely necessary or at least we won't host meetings for less important things that are easily dealt with through texting or other means of communication.
4) Less money and time spent on commuting.
5) More time spent with family

We will however socialise less and people less disciplined will be harder to monitor as opposed to an office environment. Besides infants and children in general however, working from home has much more distractions just because you have not associated your home space with working. This might not apply to freelancers or contractors necessarily but you get the picture.

A big discussion and an even bigger challenge for companies since this might be the way we primarily do business in the future.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lucas Liaskos on 10th March 2020 4:45pm

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