Remote Work in Engineering #4 - Strategy

Jan 12, 2023 - Bungie

Welcome back and happy new year! In part one of this series, you read about Bungie’s history of in-office and remote collaboration. In part two, we laid out the dilemma Bungie Engineering faced around leveraging fully-remote engineers. In part three, we talked about the external and internal research we did to inform our strategy. Here, in the fourth and final post of this series, we’ll share the remote work strategy we built, informed by that research!

Disclaimer: This series presents a story from the perspective of a single discipline, Engineering. In fact, many groups at Bungie were simultaneously grappling with these challenges, with lots of independent experimentation and cross-pollination of thinking. In particular, “we” here generally refers to Bungie as a whole, unless explicitly discussing engineering.


The results from the survey in part three fed into a great deal of debate among senior engineering leads. Ultimately, combining the survey takeaways with a ton of other context, we decided to pursue the following strategy for Engineering starting in November 2021:


  • We believe that at least 10% of Bungie will be fully-remote from now on, and we have to plan around making that successful.

  • Given that, plus the widespread desire for flexible work locations, plus our plan for multiple physical offices, plus an ever-increasing desire for external-development collaboration (for business flexibility), there’s simply no returning to the world of day-to-day reliance on in-person collaboration for most of our work.

  • In-person collaboration is tremendously valuable on occasion, and some people want it every week or even every day. It can no longer be a foundation we build on, but it’s a spice we need to continue to sprinkle liberally.

      • Aside: it’s been fascinating to me to work with people throughout the pandemic who have such different emotional experiences of physical isolation from coworkers. In particular, some folks tell me that they find video conferencing a pale imitation of human interaction—they speak of the joy and nuance of in-person communication as something that refills their happiness and motivation, while video feels flat and lifeless. Others, and I count myself among them, are all the way on the other end of the spectrum—video feels about the same as in-person chat to me, except for the annoying latency. In some ways video is more pleasant for me, because there aren’t as many subtle social cues to miss—the focus is more consistently on the semantics of the conversation. I suspect that if you felt more at home in a chatroom than a conversation as a teenager, you might feel the same. Of course, as with most things, most people are somewhere in the middle of these extremes, and we need to build systems and culture that are inclusive across the spectrum.

  • We think live collaboration remains critical—we think that our work of making interconnected real-time worlds that bring people together isn’t going to support a high enough degree of modularity to tolerate widespread  asynchronous collaboration. We can’t make great things if we can only chat early in the morning or late at night and typical collaboration happens once a day by e-mail. Therefore, for now, we would limit fully-remote folks to within three time zones of Pacific (for the vast majority of roles), and we continue to require everyone to overlap during core hours.


  • We should lean more aggressively into fully remote as a way to improve quality of life, accelerate hiring, and support retention.

  • Most roles should be remote-permitted-by-default, with exceptions for certain high-collaboration roles.

  • We should continue to offer an excellent office environment, but with less emphasis on full desk layouts for whole teams, and more emphasis on emergent collaborative experiences.

  • We should continue to get everyone together in person regularly for large-scale planning, New Hire Lunches (an incredible program for another post), and the sheer joy of being together. Bungie is currently thinking of flying everyone to Seattle for regular 'onsites'.

  • We should be cautious about the scale of our commitment to fully-remote until we learn what hybrid is really like. We should audit our progress regularly, and every time we cross a threshold of another 5% of engineers being fully remote, we should trigger an audit/review to determine if we should slow down (or speed up!).

  • We should invest proactively and deliberately in technology and processes to help us work better together in remote and hybrid ways. It’s not going away. Let’s stop thinking of this as a COVID purgatory and start designing our digital-first utopia.

After aligning that strategy with other stakeholders (project leaders, HR, IT/Ops, other dev disciplines, etc.), we did a sweep through our engineering job postings in February 2022 and converted most of them to fully-remote eligible. Interestingly, we weren’t the first discipline to do this—Bungie Test was a couple months ahead of us, a great example of convergent thinking in this space!

We thought this would be the end of the story for a while, but it wasn’t! Many other discussions were happening within Bungie and reaching similar conclusions (with lots of cross-pollination!), and ultimately in April 2022 we made a company-wide public commitment to Digital-First. That meant nearly all roles across all disciplines became remote eligible, and we committed to our people that we wouldn’t have office-attendance mandates when our HQ reopens (with some exceptions, e.g. for roles that explicitly require onsite work, such as facilities maintenance). 

We’ve chosen our next challenge — our feet are planted, and we’re facing our digital-first future head on. What a difference from the Bungie of three years ago!

Today, Bungie is excited to hire people from anywhere we can currently offer HR and tax compliance, which now includes eighteen states, covering well over half of the US population. We plan to continue widening geographic support, we want to break down barriers to working with us, and we’re aiming to become one of the most diverse teams in the world.


I thought this was an interesting example of tackling a thorny non-technical problem in Bungie engineering (and Bungie as a whole!), and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about it. If Bungie sounds like a place you’d like to work, please come talk with us!

-David Aldridge, Head of Engineering

Would you like to work at Bungie?

We’d love to talk with you. Here are a couple of the most exciting tech roles we’re hiring for, with many more on our careers page!
  • Senior Mobile Graphics Engineer
    • We're looking for someone to help us port our in-house AAA engine (Tiger) to mobile, to give us a chance to inspire friendships among a few billion people who are mostly priced out of our current platforms.
    • No games experience required!  If you've been doing graphics engineering on iOS or Android for a while in any context, we'd love to hear from you.
  • Incubation Gameplay Engineering Lead
    • For more info on this particular incubation project, check out this two minute video
    • Did you watch it?  Go watch it!
    • Ok, so do you want to work for & with that guy?  I think you should; I was lucky enough to get to for 12 years!
    • This one does require games experience - we're looking for someone who can lead a gameplay team and wants to make a smaller game within a larger studio. 

We know you could work anywhere. Please reach out, let us share more, and see if you want to work here.
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