Report: Musk lays off 50% of Twitter staff, reverses work-from-home policy

Report: Musk lays off 50% of Twitter staff, reverses work-from-home policy

Illustration of a bust of Elon Musk surrounded by flags with the Twitter logo.

Aurich Lawson

Elon Musk plans to eliminate half of Twitter’s jobs and require remote employees to report to the office, Bloomberg reported.

“Elon Musk plans to eliminate about 3,700 jobs at Twitter, or half of the social media company’s workforce,” and “intends to reverse the company’s existing work-from-anywhere policy, asking remaining employees to report to offices — though some would exceptions could be made,” the report said. Bloomberg cited people familiar with the matter. Musk reportedly aims to notify affected staff of the layoffs on Friday.

Following an earlier report that Musk told investors he planned to cut 75 percent of Twitter’s workforce, Musk reportedly told the staff that it will not eliminate 75 percent of jobs. But it was still clear that it would be a significant number of layoffs.

Twitter allegedly has approximately 1,500 full-time remote employees. Musk’s reported work-from-home directive would be similar orders he issued at Tesla and SpaceX earlier this year. Musk has told employees at his electric car and space companies that they must be in the office at least 40 hours a week or leave the company.

Workers may need to relocate quickly

In June, Musk held a virtual town hall with Twitter staff where he is he reportedly said would let “exceptional” employees work from home if it completed its previous acquisition of the social network. “If someone can only work remotely and is exceptional, it wouldn’t make sense to fire them,” he said. Musk reportedly pointed out at the meeting that working at Twitter is different from working at Tesla, saying, “Tesla makes cars, and you can’t make cars remotely.”

Axios too registered work from home news, writing that Twitter “plans to require its remaining employees to return to brick-and-mortar offices full-time…sources within the company say many employees are unable or unwilling to relocate, resulting in additional loss upon dismissal.” Employees hired to work remotely during the pandemic would have to quickly decide whether to stay and could be given “as little as 60 days” to relocate to an area near Twitter’s office, according to a report from Axios.

Before Musk, Twitter leadership encouraged employees to work wherever they felt comfortable. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal told employees in March that while all of the company’s offices reopen, “decisions about where you work, whether you feel safe on your business trip, and what events you attend should be yours. As we reopen, our approach remains the same. Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you’ll work, and that includes working from home full-time forever.”

According to a Bloomberg report, senior staff on Twitter’s product teams “were asked to target a 50 percent reduction in headcount… The layoff lists were compiled and ranked based on individuals’ contributions to Twitter’s code during their time at the company.” Musk reportedly brought in “engineers and executive-level staff from Tesla” to help evaluate the layoff lists.

The upcoming layoffs are a hot topic on Twitter

Musk immediately fired back Agrawal and several other senior executives after it completed its acquisition of Twitter a week ago. After that, “several employees with director and vice president jobs were let go,” Bloomberg wrote. Moreover, “after [plans for] layoffs are settled, Twitter’s chief accounting officer Robert Kaiden has left the company, becoming one of the last C-suite executives before Musk to depart,” the article said.

A Washington Post article said Twitter staff became aware of the planned 50 percent cut on Wednesday, though they had not received any official word from management:

By the end of the day, word had spread through the company that the layoffs — half of the staff — were likely to come Friday, and that Musk would require the remaining Twitter employees to return to the office full-time. But that word didn’t come from Musk or anyone on his leadership team. It came via Blind, the anonymous workplace gossip site that some Twitter employees say has become their best, and often only, source of information about what’s going on inside the company in the chaotic, surreal week since Musk bought it for 44 billion dollars.

“Since Musk closed the deal on Oct. 27, employees say, they have not received any official communication from anyone in leadership positions at the company,” the Washington Post article also said. “They were not told that Musk had completed the purchase, that their CEOs and top executives had been summarily fired, or that Musk had dissolved the board and installed himself as CEO.”

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