Elon Musk recently issued an ultimatum to Twitter employees: Commit to a new “hardcore” work environment or accept three months’ severance pay and leave. This move came after the botched launch of Twitter’s Blue Verified program, firing of top executives, as well as a mass layoff that saw half of the company’s 7,500 employees departing—a rocky start to Musk’s career as CEO and Chief Twit at the social media company.
The email sent to all remaining employees was obtained by multiple news outlets and detailed a grueling future for employees who decide to stay at the organization:
“Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”
The ultimatum was met with immediate pushback. Though there is no official count of how many employees opted in to the model the Verge reported that hundreds of Twitter’s remaining employees have resigned, a clear protest to Musk’s vision of “Twitter 2.0.”
Many “critical” teams, such as the one that maintains Twitter’s core system libraries used by every engineer at the company, have now either nearly or completely resigned. “You cannot run Twitter without this team,” a departing employee said.
Twitter’s Trust and Safety team, mainly responsible for tamping down hate speech and misinformation on the site, was discussing a mass resignation. Should this materialize, it could further threaten content moderation on the site.
Twitter also no longer has a communications department to contact for comment.
“It feels like all the people who made this place incredible are leaving. It will be extremely hard for Twitter to recover from here, no matter how hardcore the people who remain try to be.” – Anonymous Twitter Staff
These critical departures for a company with operations as complicated as Twitter do not bode well for its future—many people who know Twitter well think that it’s only a matter of time until things break down.
Crack Down On Remote Work
In addition to the ultimatum, Elon Musk issued stricter expectations for the company’s return-to-office policy. Musk’s email to employees says managers must meet in person with employees—even exceptional ones—at least monthly. Managers can even be terminated for allowing employees to work remotely if they are not “exceptional.”
“Regarding remote work, all that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution. It is also expected that you have in-person meetings with your colleagues on a reasonable cadence, ideally weekly, but not less than once per month.
At the risk of stating the obvious, any manager who falsely claims that someone reporting to them is doing excellent work or that a given role is essential, whether remote or not, will be exited from the company.”
Prior to this email, Musk already required employees to be in a Twitter office “at least” 40 hours a week and would personally approve any alternative arrangements. This is the same policy he set at Tesla in May of this year and a reversal of Twitter’s previous “work from home forever” policy set by Twitter’s co-founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey.
The Effect On Business
There’s already a mass exodus of advertisers, Twitter’s main revenue source. General Motors, Volkswagen, General Mills, and many other advertisers paused their campaigns after Musk’s takeover. Many attributed their decision to concerns about a rise in misinformation, hate speech, and other distasteful content in his watch. The wave of layoffs and resignations from key departments overseeing this problem does not help assuage advertisers otherwise.
What’s happening at Twitter is a clear case study of what happens when employees are treated as disposable assets, provided with scant communication and no room for healthy disagreement. The jury’s still out on whether Twitter will survive—many are willing to bet it will not.