The news that Twitter will seemingly allow staff to work from home “forever” is just the start. Powered by 5G, increasingly capable smartphones and conferencing software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, we can expect plenty of companies to follow suit.
Firstly, it’s worth familiarising ourselves with the situation at Twitter. The social media giant was quick to respond to the virus outbreak initially and now, months later, it’s showing other companies that remote working could be the future.
A statement from Twitter’s vice president of people, Jennifer Christie, reads:
“Twitter was one of the first companies to go to a work from home model in the face of COVID-19, but we don’t anticipate being one of the first to return to offices.
“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.”
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It might seem a bit drastic, but this tells us that Twitter has realised it can operate perfectly well with its staff working from home – and why not?
Especially for a social media company, with a company-wide focus on connecting people over long distances, there’s a sort of poetic justice to it. It says: ‘We’re not together. You’re not together. But we’re all communicating.’
While we know many companies won’t like the idea, and many workers won’t either, we’re bound to see an increase in working from home when the pandemic is over. The fact that so many employees have been forced into remote working has opened people’s eyes to both the pitfalls and possibilities associated with working from home.
One or two companies are already following in Twitter’s footsteps, or at least talking about doing so. Corporate giants like Mondelez and Nationwide have already said they too will be considering more work from home options for staff post-crisis (via CNBC).
Barclays went a step further too, with CEO Jes Staley saying (via Reuters): “There will be a long-term adjustment in how we think about our location strategy…the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”.
It’s no shock that cutting down on the huge overheads associated with running offices is exciting business leaders, but it’s not something we ever thought could run efficiently enough for those leaders to consider cutting down on physical sites. Now, having been forced to adopt and trial a strategy or remote working, it turns out it’s worked pretty well for lots of employers.
Related: How to use Microsoft Teams
Thanks largely to the advances in smartphones, networking and communication technology – remote working is only going to get smoother. (Yes, we can see you shaking your heads, 5G conspiracy theorists.)
Doing socially distant business has never been easier, but what that will mean for our workplaces, and for our workplace relationships, remains to be seen.