SAN FRANCISCO – It was one of the first companies to send its workforce home when the novel coronavirus started spreading. Now Twitter could be the first to make working remotely a permanent option.
Twitter announced Tuesday that employees who were able could continue working from home, or possibly anywhere else that makes them happy and productive, forever. The policy will not apply to employees who have to do things in person, like maintain the offices or technology like servers.
“Opening offices will be our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs,” said Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of HR, in a blog post.
Its main offices including the San Francisco headquarters won’t begin to open until September, and the company says there will be additional precautions in place when workers do return. All in-person events are canceled for the rest of the year, and it will revisit whether to have any 2021 events later this year. Business travel will also be on hold through September.
The company had 5,100 employees in more than 35 offices around the world, according to its most recent earnings report. Chief executive Jack Dorsey announced the plans to employees in an email Tuesday, according to BuzzFeed.
The company said in its blog post it was already set up to have a decentralized workforce before the pandemic, and that made the sudden transition easier. The last few months have been an unexpected test of that system, and Twitter says it has shown that it works.
“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,” Christie said. “If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves.”
When the coronavirus first started spreading widely in the United States, companies were hesitant to be the first to switch to a work-from-home model. After Microsoft, Amazon and several other Seattle-based companies on March 4 and Twitter on March 11 made the decision to send office workers home, other companies quickly followed suit.
Now, as states and counties look toward loosening stay-home restrictions and allowing more businesses to open up, many are watching Big Tech’s plans to go back to their open offices. Facebook and Google recently announced most employees could continue working remotely through the end of the year but did not share any longer term changes.
If and when tech workers do go back, their corporate campus — once known for free food, communal activities, shared bikes and other perks — could look vastly different and make staying home more appealing.