Twitter asks employees to work from home due to coronavirus threat

Twitter is now "strongly encouraging" all employees to work remotely in addition to the ban on nonessential travel worldwide.

Twitter Headquarters

Twitter encourages all employees to work from home.

Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

On Monday, Twitter announced in a blog post that all employees are being "strongly encouraged" to work from home to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. "We are operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our Tweeps healthy," the company said in a statement.

Offices will remain open for those who need to come in, or who choose to. Employees in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea will be required to work as a remote employee.

SEE: Policy pack: Guidelines for remote workers (TechRepublic Premium)

Twitter also stops employee travel due to coronavirus threat

This comes just hours after the company revealed that it had told employees earlier, on February 29, that it was immediately halting all nonessential employee travel due to the risk posed by the coronavirus. With that announcement, Twitter joined the ranks of Amazon and Google to end nonessential employee travel because of the coronavirus and COVID-19.

The Twitter blog post said, "We are working to make sure internal meetings, all hands, and other important tasks are optimized for remote participation. We recognize that working from home is not ideal for some job functions. For those employees who prefer or need to come into the offices, they will remain open for business. Our Real Estate & Workplace team is increasing deep cleaning and sanitizing in all spaces, as well as more visual reminders for personal hygiene best practices and pre-packaged, pre-composed, and pre-plated food options."

SEE: Managing remote workers: A business leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)   

Mandatory remote work for employees in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea

The post continued, "Working from home will be mandatory for employees based in our Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea offices due in part to government restrictions. Our criteria will evolve over time as we get more information, and we will communicate to affected Tweeps as appropriate."

The CDC now has just over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US in 15 states and six deaths, with New Hampshire and Georgia the most recent states to join the battle against the virus. The novel coronavirus has resulted in more than 3,100 deaths worldwide. So far, there have been 90,000 global cases confirmed as coronavirus spreads around the world. 

SEE: Coronavirus having major effect on tech industry beyond supply chain delays (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Twitter also bailing on SXSW due to coronavirus fears

Twitter is also pulling out of SXSW, where Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was scheduled to give a keynote address, according to CNET's Erin Carson. In past years, Twitter has hosted speakers and events at its "Twitter House" at SXSW in Austin, Texas, which takes place in mid-March. Facebook has also cancelled all SXSW participation this year. 

Twitter announced the ban on employee travel yesterday in a blog post and said, "We also have the responsibility of ensuring that the health and safety of our employees and partners is not compromised. We have continued to monitor the situation closely and are adjusting our internal policies to respond to this rapidly-evolving situation. On February 29, we informed our people and started notifying partners that we are suspending all non-critical business travel and events."

"This policy is effective immediately and will continue until the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control deem it appropriate to step back from pandemic precautionary measures or when a vaccine becomes available."

This comes soon after Paul Singer, the billionaire founder of the activist fund Elliott Management, was reported to be preparing a plan to try to replace Jack Dorsey as CEO of Twitter.

This article was updated on March 3, 2020.

Also see