- Elon Musk for months has demanded Twitter workers come in five days a week.
- Offices remain largely empty most of the time, despite threats to workers’ employment.
- New CEO Linda Yaccarino is trying to get people to want to come in, recently hosting a “tea time.”
Elon Musk instituting a “culture of fear” at Twitter has not been enough to get the remaining employees to return to the office consistently.
Almost immediately upon Musk acquiring Twitter seven months ago, the Tesla billionaire reversed a remote work policy put in place in the early days of the pandemic by co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey. Although part of Twitter’s response to the pandemic, the company was the first major tech company to permanently allow employees to work remotely. Under Musk’s ownership, it also became the first company in tech to force a return to the office, now just one of his many reversals of Twitter’s employee perks and benefits. New demands to return to the office throughout tech and media have been met with frustration and often protests by workers.
Musk’s “culture of fear,” as several current and former employees described his management style, in which norms include constant layoffs and “demon mode,” may have run its course. Having laid off or fired about 90% of Twitter’s full-time employees since his takeover, Twitter has become a workplace where many of those left simply accept that “every day could be your last,” one worker said. Layoffs and seemingly random firings of employees still occur “every month,” another worker said, even among employees who have seemed to successfully keep up with constantly changing projects and demands and faithfully send weekly and monthly emails to management detailing what they accomplished in that time.
It’s shown to workers that Musk is a boss who refuses or simply cannot be pleased, a person familiar with the company said. Since no amount of work will save their job, many people are willing to risk his wrath and work from home. Workers are also increasingly aware that Musk and his management team are starting to worry about retention, with only about 500 engineers left on staff.
New CEO Linda Yaccarino is attempting to motivate workers to want to come into the office, another person familiar said, instead of merely demanding it. This month she held something called “Tea Time” with all Twitter staffers, first in the San Francisco office and then this past week in the New York office.
Described as a casual all-hands meeting, with tea, Yaccarino had face-time with workers in both cities for about an hour. The new CEO is making a concerted effort to try and get people to want to come into the office, the person familiar said. It’s a departure from Musk’s method.
“It’s usually pretty empty,” one person familiar with Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters said. Although the size of Twitter’s staff has been decimated, that does not account for the empty feeling, another person familiar added. Most workers are now collected on a couple of floors, like the 10th floor in the San Francisco office, while unused space is being sublet or turned into sleeping quarters. Two other people familiar with the office agreed that many people each day of the week are working from home.
That often includes an HR leader, two people familiar with the company said. Although Musk’s executives often travel between offices, not seeing one of the key people tasked with enforcing full-time RTO practice it has several employees miffed, they added
Musk has been adamant that full-time return-to-office is required for Twitter employees that do not have an approved exemption. Over the past several weeks, all managers at Twitter were required to audit each remaining Twitter employee for how often they work from home, mainly through tracking of their office badges. Managers are also required to explain each instance of remote work and why it was allowed, one of the people familiar said.
The audit is in part to track worker productivity, while also giving Musk and his management team data on which offices are being used as they continue to discuss closing offices or subleasing space. Musk has been in the process of closing and shrinking Twitter offices for months. A likely outcome is still that Twitter will maintain U.S. offices only in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, as Insider previously reported. Prior to Musk’s takeover, Twitter had 18 offices in the U.S.
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