Elon Musk softens his remote-work mandate at Twitter after many staffers opt to quit rather than continue in his ‘hardcore’ office environment

November 17, 2022, 9:38 PM UTC
Elon Musk.
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Elon Musk’s deadline for Twitter employees to either commit to the company’s new “hardcore” work environment or leave is approaching. But more are opting to leave than Musk anticipated, leading him and others to attempt to convince colleagues to stay, according to people familiar with the matter.

Musk, who had earlier said he was strictly against remote work, sent a follow-up email Thursday softening his tone. “All that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” he wrote, adding that staffers should have in-person meetings with their colleagues not less than once per month. 

Musk on Wednesday asked employees to formally state whether they were willing to keep working at the company – a commitment that would include “working long hours at high intensity.” Employees have until 5 p.m. Eastern time Thursday to fill out a Google form. 

The form included just one possible response: “Yes.” Anyone who failed to accept the form by the deadline was told they would be out of the company with three months severance.

Key employees were brought into meetings as the deadline neared to hear pitches on Twitter’s future, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk also brought back leaders, including one on Twitter’s trust and safety team, and deputized them to try to convince employees to stay, one of the people said.

The ultimatum from Musk came less than two weeks after he laid off 50% of Twitter’s workforce, or roughly 3,700 employees. Many Twitter workers consulted lawyers this week to determine what to do. The form included almost no details about the severance packages, and it was not immediately clear whether employees would receive legal protections that would allow them to keep vesting stock awards or maintain insurance coverage.

Musk later sent a follow-up email on remote work, according to a screenshot viewed by Bloomberg. “Any manager who falsely claims that someone reporting to them is doing excellent work or that a given role is essential, whether remote or not, will be exited from the company.”

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