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Twitter Says Employees Will Work From Home Forever
May 17, 2020
Some Twitter employees may never return to their office. Company CEO Jack Dorsey emailed his staff on Tuesday to tell them that they’d be allowed to work from home even after the pandemic lockdown passes. Permanently. Although some jobs that require physical presence, for example, maintaining servers, will still require people to come in.
“We’ve been very thoughtful in how we’ve approached this from the time we were one of the first companies to move to a work-from-home model,” a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We’ll continue to be, and we’ll continue to put the safety of our people and communities first.”
Twitter encouraged its employees to start working from home at the beginning of March, just as the coronavirus started to spread across the US. Other big tech companies did the same, including Microsoft and Google.
That month, Twitter human resources head Jennifer Christie said the company would “never probably be the same” in the structure of its work. “People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way,” Christie said. “Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.”
A Twitter spokesperson told Tech Crunch that the company is uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home, emphasizing decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere.
The past few months have proven they can make that work. “So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return.”
Brittany Harker Martin, an associate professor of leadership, policy & governance at the University of Calgary, finds it interesting that such a technologically mediated company had to wait for a pandemic to see whether or not there was a business case for this. “I think we will start to see other companies follow suit simply because they finally have the data to show that this can work,” Martin told RED SHOTGUN. “You will note that Twitter has not offered this to everyone. There are many jobs that are suited for telework, and employees with the right profile and situation to be effective and satisfied while working from home, and the opposite is true: some jobs require face-to-face interaction or proximity, and some people are not good in a remote work context.”
Martin thinks that companies were wary of such a move because they needed certainty that allowing their employees to work from home could be equally if not more profitable than sticking with the status quo. They needed to see that it worked, and that people could do it. “Today, at least for now, we are living in a world where certainty no longer drives business decisions and I suspect we will see a trend of more telework opportunities.”
“That said, there are also many employees who are currently forced into telework situations who are working in suboptimal circumstances: cramped conditions with grumpy ‘co-workers’ competing for space and resources and home-schooling children,” Martin added. “For many, their taste of telework has been bitter, and although this is an inaccurate portrayal of most successful telework environments, it will still inform the discourse and trends going forward.”