Goodbye yoga rooms, microbrews and gourmet food.
Employees at Twitter got the official word on Tuesday: they never have to return to the office. The company’s chief executive officer, Jack Dorsey, explained that working from home, long after the coronavirus fades from the headlines, will be permanent.
Twitter was one of the first big tech companies that quickly prioritized the radical shift to staying and working at home. In early March, the company told employees to skip the office while it focused on new workflow systems to make the transition functional and efficient. With the coronavirus disruption underway, other tech giants, such as Google and Facebook, also cancelled annual conferences and organized more teams to work remotely.
The company has roughly 5,100 employees with an estimated 1,000 based in San Francisco in its Mayan-inspired headquarters.
Twitter plans to reopen their offices when they deem it safe, welcoming employees who wish to return, but probably not before September. The timetable remains uncertain, however, given lockdown extensions, uncertainty about the virus and the lack of a vaccine. As for certain specialists and engineers who maintain the company’s servers and other hardware, Buzzfeed News reports that they’ll be excluded from the new work-from-home option.
The social networking giant has no plans to conduct any in-person company conferences for the rest of 2020, according to a statement.
“We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere. The past few months have proven we 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.”
Jessica Verrilli, a former vice president at Twitter and co-founder of investment collective #Angels, says,
“I expect many tech companies will follow. For software, remote work is here to stay.”
Since rent in San Francisco is more than double the US average, techies who don’t have to head into the office may be heading away from the Bay Area, accelerating a long-standing trend. Prior to Covid-19, the region was suffering from an exodus due to its sky-high rents, jammed roadways and soaring homelessness.
Data from the US Census Bureau shows that the five-county Bay Area lost a net total of nearly 35,400 people from 2013-17, excluding births and new arrivals from other countries, with residents flooding Texas and also heading to Oregon, Washington and Colorado.
While the pandemic continues to carve out new normals, altering work habits and redefining major lifestyle choices, big tech is also well positioned to help lead the recovery with cities like San Francisco and Seattle serving as major hubs.
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Featured Image: Shutterstock/Chad McDermott