As the global threat heightens, Twitter changes requirements for employees to require telecommuting in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Twitter is increasing its response to the coronavirus pandemic by now requiring all employees around the world must work from home. On February 29, it had suspended all non-critical business travel and events. And on March 2, the company had only strongly encouraged that employees work remotely, although at that time, employees in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea were required to work as a remote employee.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the company said, "Our top priority remains the health and safety of our Tweeps, and we also have a responsibility to support our communities, those who are vulnerable, and the healthcare providers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. To continue this push, we are moving beyond our earlier guidance of 'strongly encouraging work from home' provided on March 2 and have now informed all employees globally they must work from home. We understand this is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times."
Twitter said it will be paying contractors, vendors and hourly workers their labor costs to cover standard working hours even if they are not able to perform their responsibilities from home as long as Twitter's work-from-home guidance and/or travel restrictions related to their assigned office are in effect.
In addition, it will reimburse parents for expenses they will incur if their normal daycare closes due to COVID-19. And it will help all employees, including hourly workers, set up their home offices by reimbursing costs for desks, desk chairs and ergonomic chair cushions, and the company is allowing employees to expense online fees while working from home.
SEE: Managing remote workers: A business leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Microsoft, Apple, Google among tech companies taking similar measures
Other major tech companies such as Microsoft Corp. are taking similar steps to pay hourly workers unable to do their on-site jobs while telecommuting is mandated by the company.
Many companies are also giving employees the option of working from home, particularly those in the hardest hit areas. Google has asked all employees in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa to work from home. Apple, Amazon, Cisco, IBM, Facebook and Microsoft have also encouraged employees to work from home, but not necessarily companywide.
Business travel has also been severely limited by many companies. Amazon, Apple, Google, CNN, Ernst & Young, Salesforce and many others have restricted employee travel to all except "business critical" trips due to the COVID-19 risk.
SEE: Working remotely: A professional's guide to the essential tools (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Coronavirus spurs cancellations and closures
Twitter's announcement is one of the latest shocking announcements in the midst of the growing coronavirus crisis. The NBA announced on Wednesday that it was suspending its season after a player tested positive for COVID-19, and colleges around the US have converted to online-only classes or shut down altogether. Hundreds of conferences and events have also been canceled, postponed, or turned into online events so that people can avoid congregating in large groups and slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
There have been more than 118,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,000 people have died. There are more than 1,000 cases and 32 deaths in the United States.
- The latest cancellations: How the coronavirus is disrupting tech conferences worldwide (TechRepublic)
- The tech pro's guide to video conferencing (TechRepublic download)
- Coronavirus domain names are the latest hacker trick (TechRepublic)
- Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)
- As coronavirus spreads, here's what's been canceled or closed (CBS News)
- Coronavirus: Effective strategies and tools for remote work during a pandemic (ZDNet)
- How to track the coronavirus: Dashboard delivers real-time view of the deadly virus (ZDNet)
- Coronavirus and COVID-19: All your questions answered (CNET)
- Coronavirus: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)