This week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the company’s employees will be able to work from home ‘forever’ if they wish.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter, like many companies, has found that switching to a work-from-home model has been successful. Therefore, they have decided to offer this as a permanent option for their workforce.
In a blog post, the company said: “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.”
Crucially, Twitter is offering the choice of whether to return to the office or not, once circumstances allow – rather than mandating it for certain roles or groups of people.
Working from home is generally viewed as something positive and is classed as a ‘benefit’ by many organisations. However, we must acknowledge that not all employees see it this way.
For some, home working will be challenging due to their living situation, caring responsibilities, access to internet connection or equipment for example. Not everybody has a home office or separate room to work in comfortably for a prolonged period.
We also must remember that home is not a safe space for some. Sadly, it has been reported that domestic violence has been on the rise during the pandemic. Going out to work may normally be a lifeline, so the potential impact on the mental and physical health of anyone in this situation is a concern.
Of course, there are those of us who simply prefer to work in an office – at least some of the time. It provides routine, human connection and the social element. Being in an office, where we chat to colleagues and get up to make coffee, could improve our work as we are more likely to have occasional breaks. When at home, many end up taking fewer breaks, our conversations will be primarily work-related, and we may feel we have to be online constantly as ‘presenteeism’ is arguably exacerbated during this time.
It is understandable that companies will look to the future and consider whether to make changes. To ensure you remain inclusive, it is important to consult with your workforce and to think about the ways that changes to working environment could affect their wellbeing or their ability to produce high quality work.
It is great that Twitter is leading the way by providing the option to continue working from home or to return to the office, and that the company has given employees allowances to buy home office supplies such as desks and chairs.
Hopefully, we will see companies implement choice and flexibility as Twitter has, enabling employees to work in the way that best suits their circumstances. It is vital that before taking these decisions, organisations keep inclusivity front of mind, and take the opinions and situations of individuals into account. Organisations will also need to look at company culture, and how this can be embedded with so many working remotely – especially when it comes to new starters. It will be interesting to see how companies around the world react and adapt once some normality returns.