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An Elon Musk takeover could end Twitter’s permanent work-from-home policy

June 2, 2022, 8:41 AM UTC

Twitter’s remote-work policy—one of the most flexible among U.S. tech companies—could be under threat from its potential acquirer Elon Musk, based on the Tesla CEO’s dim view of working from home.

On Tuesday, Musk sent an email to Tesla executive staff saying that employees needed to be at the office for a minimum of 40 hours a week.

“If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned,” Musk told his employees. The Tesla CEO took a shot at other companies that have been more flexible in terms of remote work, too, asking “when was the last time they shipped a great new product?”

Twitter, which has a permanent work-from-home policy, would definitely fall under the category of companies with more flexible work arrangements than Tesla.

WFH forever

In May 2020, two months after sending employees home as COVID began to spread in the U.S., Twitter’s then CEO Jack Dorsey announced the company would allow employees to work from home permanently, even after the pandemic ended.

Twitter reopened its office on March 15 of this year, and CEO Parag Agrawal assured employees that Dorsey’s permanent remote work policy was here to stay. Agrawal said employees would be allowed to work wherever they “feel most productive and creative,” even if that meant “working from home full-time forever.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether a Musk acquisition would end its permanent remote-work policy.

Twitter employees have expressed concerns about how Musk might change the company’s culture—including whether he would try to change its remote-work policy. The future Twitter CEO has already shared his intention to shake things up at the social media company, tweeting last month that “work ethic expectations would be extreme” for anyone at the company.

Twitter itself warned, in a May filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, that the looming merger could affect its ability “to attract and retain key personnel and recruit prospective employees,” as well as distract current employees.

Since Musk made his unsolicited $44 billion bid to take Twitter private, the social media company has implemented a hiring freeze, laid off key employees, and transferred staff away from more experimental projects.

The benefits of remote work

Many U.S. companies have struggled to bring workers back into the office full-time. Apple recently delayed a plan to increase the number of days of in-person work from two to three amid worker complaints that it hurt productivity. (Musk has poked fun at Apple employees choosing not to go into the office, suggesting they were lazy.)

In contrast, Airbnb recently announced that it would follow Twitter’s lead by allowing U.S. employees to “live and work anywhere,” with CEO Brian Chesky calling the past two years the company’s “most productive” period to date. 

A recent survey from Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom found that workers who worked from home at least part of the time had a 9% self-reported increase in productivity in April. Meanwhile, workers unhappy with their office’s policy on remote work are three times more likely to say they will look for a new job in the coming year, says the Future Forum, a Slack-founded think tank that studies workplace culture.

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