Elon Musk cites “difficult times ahead” in abruptly scrapping Twitter’s work-from-home policy

New Twitter owner, Elon Musk, sent his first email to employees late Wednesday to alert them of the social media company’s new rules: Working from home will no longer be permitted, with staffers expected to be in the office at least 40 hours a week.

Musk — who titled his email “difficult times ahead” — also said he wanted to prepare employees for challenges amid a “dire” economic outlook, which he said will especially impact an advertising-dependent business like Twitter, according to the companywide email, which was viewed by CBS MoneyWatch. 

“The road ahead is arduous and will require intense work to succeed,” Musk wrote. “We are also changing Twitter policy such that remote work is no longer allowed, unless you have a specific exception.”

He added, “Starting tomorrow (Thursday), everyone is required to be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours per week.”

Musk’s new workplace policy reverses a shift that Twitter’s management made early in the pandemic to allow employees to work from anywhere — a move that was emulated by many other companies as they sought to make their employees’ lives easier amid the health crisis. 

The new policy risks alienating Twitter workers, especially after more than two years of having a flexible workplace approach, experts say.  

“Business owners across the country are hanging on for dear life hoping their employees will want to come back into the office,” Kathleen Quinn Votaw, a talent recruitment and retention expert, said in an email. “Nope. That’s not going to happen. We’re never going back to the way we were.”

Twitter didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Musk’s 120-hour workweeks

The Tesla CEO is known for his own extreme work ethic, which, depending on your view is either heroic or a sign of unhealthy workaholism. Musk told the New York Times in 2018 that he spent the entire 24 hours of his 47th birthday at a Tesla factory and had been working 120-hour weeks. “All night — no friends, nothing,” he told the publication.

Musk has had a turbulent start to his ownership of Twitter, which has included an advertiser revolt over concerns about the social media service’s oversight of content under his leadership and his decision to fire 3,700 employees, or roughly half its workforce. 

Meanwhile, Musk’s fortune has plummeted by $100 billion this year as Tesla’s stock price slumps amid the Twitter turmoil. He’s also struggled to navigate a plan to charge $8 a month for Twitter’s blue check marks, which has been derided by some Twitter users. 

In his Wednesday email, Musk warned that the company needs to generate subscription revenue amid the advertising slowdown. 

“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn,” he wrote.

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