Twitter will let its employees work from home permanently following the COVID-19 pandemic, and won’t reopen until September 2020 with few exceptions.
The move means Twitter has become the first major tech company to allow employees who can work remotely to do so indefinitely, as the coronavirus outbreak forces unprecedented changes in work culture across the world.
The pandemic, which has infected more than 4.2 million people globally so far, has led to strict lockdowns in most countries and changed the way businesses function, with work-from-home emerging as the new norm.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey broke the news to employees in an email.
In the statement, a Twitter spokesperson said the company was uniquely equipped for employees 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,” the statement continues. “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 employees do want to return to the office, they can do so when the time comes with some additional precautions. “When we do decide to open offices, it also won’t be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual,” the statement reads. Most business travel will remain off-limits, and there will be no in-person company events for the rest of 2020.
“We’re proud of the early action we took to protect the health of our employees and our communities. That will remain our top priority as we work through the unknowns of the coming months,” the spokesperson says in the statement.
Twitter asked its entire workforce of 5,000 employees to start working from home at the beginning of March. The decision after the company halted nonessential business travel for its employees, and around the same time that it pulled out of the South by Southwest festival.
Work-from-home policies were also implemented early on by other tech companies like Google and Amazon, and then by a growing number of other large corporations. As March and April wore on, many states implemented stay-at-home orders that shuttered all non-essential businesses, effectively forcing anyone who could work from home to do so.
Dorsey has made other major moves in the fight against coronavirus. In April, the CEO announced he would donate $1 billion to COVID-19 relief. Dorsey said he take the money from his equity in Square, which accounts for about 28% of his wealth.
“Why pull just from Square and not Twitter? Simply: I own a lot more Square. And I’ll need to pace the sales over some time. The impact this money will have should benefit both companies over the long-term because it’s helping the people we want to serve,” Dorsey wrote in a tweet.