Twitter's work-from-home plan highlights shift in tech talent wars
Twitter Inc. recently made headlines when it informed employees they’ll be allowed to permanently work from home after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” Twitter’s Vice President of People Jennifer Christie said in a blog post in early May.
The move matches messaging that has been building momentum at the San Francisco-based technology company for a while now.
CEO and Co-Founder Jack Dorsey had already been spending a portion of his work week working from home. And before the COVID-19 travel restrictions, he had been planning to spend up to six months this year in Africa.
Last year, Dorsey toured Twitter offices around the world to meet with employees and share his view on the future of work.
“Our clock runs around San Francisco and I don’t fundamentally believe that is our future. I believe that work is changing. The location where you are won’t matter as much,” Dorsey said on BNN Bloomberg during a stop in Toronto in April 2019.
“Ultimately, we have people who want to work at Twitter but don’t want to live in San Francisco. Not because there’s anything wrong with San Francisco, but because they feel they are more creative where they currently are.”
Of course, there was a time when Dorsey considered Twitter’s San Francisco placement to be an advantage when pitching tech talent.
“Twitter was one of the first technology companies of our era to say ‘no’ to Silicon Valley and say ‘yes’ to San Francisco,” he noted in the BNN Bloomberg interview. “And we did so because that’s where we wanted to live. We just appreciated city living, rather than living down in the suburbs.”
Recently, though, Twitter and other San Francisco-based companies — such as Uber and Salesforce — have had to rethink the future of work, given the city’s rapidly rising cost of living.
“San Francisco’s gotten ridiculous. People can’t afford to live there,” venture capitalist Bruce Croxon of co-founder of Toronto-based Round 13 Capital told BNN Bloomberg in a May 13 television interview. “We’ve seen a shift to other cities like Austin, Texas.”
Paul Graham, who used to run the influential start-up incubator Y Combinator (which helped to launch San Francisco-based companies such as Dropbox and Airbnb), tweeted that remote work may be a way for the tech companies to “escape” San Francisco.
“Many tech companies are in San Francisco against their wills because they feel they must in order to recruit talent,” Graham said in the post. “If they allow remote work, they can hire people in San Francisco without having to put the company there.”
And, as Dorsey has already said, remote work could open the door to a new spin on the tech talent wars.
“In the future, that might mean they’ll feel most creative in a city we’ve never heard of, or at home in a small town,” Dorsey said in his BNN Bloomberg interview last year. “We should be building our process and our work around that. I think this world of requiring folks to work and live in San Francisco is coming to a close.”