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Elon Musk Bans Twitter Employees From Remote Working

Elon Musk Twitter CEO
Elon Musk Bans Twitter Employees From Remote Working. Credit: Scott Mitchell / Twitter

Just days after firing 3,700 employees, Elon Musk has banned Twitter employees from working remotely, saying they need to spend a minimum of 40 hours a week in the office unless he otherwise gives his permission.

The world’s richest man said workers need to prepare for ”difficult times ahead” for advertising-led businesses like Twitter, and that he wants to see subscription fees account for half the company’s revenue.

Twitter fostered a remote work culture during the COVID-19 pandemic, thus allowing many employees to work from home. It also implemented regular additional rest days for employees that Musk has also banned, saying that Twitter’s turnaround will require ”intense work.”

He added that the new policy, first reported by Bloomberg, would be effective from Thursday.

Musk’s other companies, SpaceX and Tesla, also require mandatory in-office work unless management specifically approves it. When he wrote to both sets of workers, he said that visibility was key for the senior leadership, who should be seen to be working alongside their subordinates.

Musk fired half Twitter’s workforce

Twitter’s new CEO fired about half of the company’s 7,500-strong workforce last Friday, after buying the company for $44 billion.

Musk simultaneously said that Twitter had been hit by a momentary halt in spending from advertisers, causing ”a massive drop in revenue.’’ The social media company makes most of its more than $5 billion annual revenue from advertising.

As Twitter struggles to earn more profits, one way to fix the problem seems to be reducing wages. For over a week now, Musk has demanded deep cost cuts and imposed an aggressive new work ethic across the company, hence the looming layoffs.

In an email sent to staff last Thursday, Twitter said, ”If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please return home.”

Some Twitter employees have already tweeted out notifications that their access to the company’s IT system had been blocked and wondered whether that implied they were one of the layoffs.

Simon Balmain, a senior community manager for Twitter in the UK, said he believed he had been laid off because he was logged out of his work laptop and Slack messaging program.

”Everyone got an email saying that there was going to be a large reduction in headcount, and then around an hour later, folks started getting their laptops remotely wiped and access to Slack and Gmail revoked,” he stated.

Another Twitter user—@SBkcrn—whose profile is described as a former senior community manager at Twitter, tweeted saying, “Looks like I’m unemployed y’all. Just got remotely logged out of my work laptop and removed from Slack.” Twitter, however, never responded to a request for comment.

Criticism over Twitter’s user fees

Elon Musk said last Tuesday that Twitter will charge an eight-dollar monthly fee to Twitter users, who want a blue tick by their name indicating a verified account.

A blue tick mark next to a verified username, normally for high-profile figures, is currently free of charge.

Replying to a tweet by author Stephen King, Musk said: “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”

He explained his decision further by stating, ”I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.”Critics have nonetheless pointed out that the move could make it harder to identify reliable sources.

Yet Changpeng Zhao, chief executive of the Binance Cryptocurrency, a platform which invested in Twitter as part of Mr. Musk’s takeover, also criticized the decision when speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon for having been slow to roll out new features, given its level of staffing. Mr. Zhao said “a slimmer workforce would make more sense.”

What is more, big brands including General Motors, United Airlines, the cereal maker General Mills and others have discontinued buying ads on Twitter, fearing Musk‘s past comments declaring himself as a ”free speech absolutist” will lead to a rise in hate speech on the platform.

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