Twitter not returning to the office any time soon

by Volker Weber

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey emailed employees on Tuesday telling them that they’d be allowed to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown passes. Some jobs that require physical presence, such as maintaining servers, will still require employees to come in. ...

In his email, Dorsey said it’s unlikely Twitter would open its offices before September, and that business travel would be canceled until then as well, with very few exceptions. The company will also cancel all in-person events for the rest of the year, and reassess its plan for 2021 later this year. Finally, Twitter upped its allowance for work from home supplies to $1,000 for all employees.

Only one question: $1,000/month or $1,000 once? Allowance implies a monthly payment and gives you an idea of how expensive your desk at work is.

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IMHO, allowance implies lump sum/standardized rather than recurring ("Pauschale")... So my guess is 1k one-off

Matthias Lipp, 2020-05-12

We received a one-time € 250 allowance at the begin of the working-from-home-phase to buy monitors, keyboards and mice.

Sven Richert, 2020-05-12

Sven, better than nothing, but seriously, how far do you get with 250€?

Armin Auth, 2020-05-12

Armin, very far. Have you looked up what standard office hardware costs today?

Oliver Schult, 2020-05-12

I am fascinated to see how real estate prices are impacted in various cities when the proximity to work value is reduced. Hard to justify paying exorbitant rates for San Francisco (or almost anywhere in California or New York City or Washington DC or London or...) if you are virtual.

Obviously, lots of tech people have already done this a long time ago, but when entire companies do it, the local impact may be more pronounced.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2020-05-13

@Oliver - maybe we have different expectations on the equipment. Curious about your shopping list.

Armin Auth, 2020-05-13

We just brought the equipment that we needed/wanted from the office to our homes. Why should it collect dust in the empty offices? :-) We could then expense anything else needed that we didn't had (100% reimbursement).

Federico Hernandez, 2020-05-13

@Oliver A monitor that's suitable for 8 hours of screen work is around € 400 alone when bought new. That said I'm fully aware that many companies don't consider a decent monitor important enough to even supply them in the office let alone for home office work.

Stefan Rubner, 2020-05-13

How far? My math = 1.784,78 € for a working Home-Office infrastructure (current quick ckeck)

1 * PC i5/16/512
2 * Monitor 28"/2,5k
1 * Keyboard + Mouse
1 * Webcam
1 * Speakers
1 * Headset
1 * Printer/Scanner

You may have better prices, but for 250 € you just get...

1 * Keyboard + Mouse
1 * Webcam
1 * Speakers
1 * Headset
1 * Printer/Scanner

Hubertus Amann, 2020-05-13

It's enough to buy a single ok-ish HD monitor and a mouse/keyboard. After 8 weeks of working from home, I decide to give it to child #2 for gaming. But I struggle what to buy now. I use a Surface Laptop 3 13" with 2,256 x 1,504 pixels at 150 %. Any recommendations which size works smoothest? I thought about 27" with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels with 16:9 ratio at 150% as well.

In the office I have two 24" monitors with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels with 16:9 ratio at 125% on a desktop.

Sven Richert, 2020-05-13

In fact the office working experience will change dramatically in the near future. As of now I don't see that the open offices can be used as before the crisis with the need to stay away from each other etc. At least until end of 2020. Means the cost reduction effects of this kind of office space are gone now.

On top of that most companies have to spare money now. The step to calculate that in a 168h week, assumed that an average office is used from 7 to 7 Monday to Friday, it stays empty for 108h (or is used for only ~35% of the time) is easy. Means they are paying for most of the time empty spaces, not talking about holidays, cost for desks, chairs, phones etc. I would be surprised if we would not see soon exercises to reduce this cost dramatically.

Difficult, especially in Germany, but also in other countries, with a (before Corona) culture of presence is to develop a strategy to transform that in a more flexible way of working, independent from location. Managers especially some middle managers are still the major obstruction in this process. We'll see how that evolves now.

Sven Semel, 2020-05-13

@Sven, I started with a 24" FHD screen but have now upgraded to a 32" 4K from Samsung in addition to my Dell 5290 2-in-1. In the office I have a 28" 4K plus two mediocre Dell screens around 22" but have no plans yet to return to it anytime soon.

Armin Auth, 2020-05-13

Hubertus, why do you have a PC on that list? Do you really need to buy a specific PC for the home office? Where I work, essentially all employees have laptops, even if they usually have a fixed desk. It's just a simpler portfolio and better prices we get if we remove the desktop PCs. And in these times it helped enabling people to work from home.
I agree, a proper screen is difficult to get for 205€, but for 1000€ you can get a reasonable kit. For some of my personal peers the bigger issue would be a proper desk and chair and often more difficult: space in the apartment.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2020-05-13

@Federico: Same here. Our company encouraged to take home whatever equipment is needed - mainly monitors, docking stations and headsets. As home office is still voluntarily nobody was forced to work from home - but only a few people go to the office - either really a need for them or too small bandwidth at home.

Bernd Schhuster, 2020-05-13

@Ragnar: We also realized that the decision 2-3 years ago towards a complete shift to laptops and away from office phones plus moving as much as possible into public clouds is paying off now.
And as you mentioned: Enough space at home and good ergonomics is a bigger problem for many.

Bernd Schhuster, 2020-05-13

@Ragnar, a Notebook is build to be carried around. Why should i take a PC from here to there if there is a similar setup.

In my digital live there are 3 places where i sit in front of a PC:

In my Office = 3 * 28"/2,5k
At home = 3 * 28"/2,5k
In my Studio = 4 * 28"/4k

All 3 with a (more than) reasonable audio-setup which is optional :-)

A Surface Laptop goes for 2000 €, has a tiny little 15" screen and sounds bullshit. But you can carry it with you, not an important option to me/us.

All my people work on at least 2 big screens and nobody asked for a notebook but for more big screens at home. We do not have a single place in our company where a specification does not look like my list above - not even accounting.

For us is having 15" a bit late 90'...

Having a desk, chair and space is mantadory for Home-Office.

Hubertus Amann, 2020-05-13

May i add, i take my iPhone with me, that´s it. Everything else is already there - including corporate IP phone system.

Hubertus Amann, 2020-05-13

Hubertus, the external monitors are obvious. Nobody should be working on a laptop screen other than while on the go. Ergonomically that is not even permitted anymore since more than a decade, if I am not mistaken (Ergonomierichtlinie).
All I am wondering is why someone would spend two or even three times the money on the CPU, GPU, SSD, etc. when the same unit can be used in all places. At least in my experience, the video signal and audio signal of current laptops are competitive with desktop PC signals (many gamers use laptops only nowadays, too). Of course these signals have to be transferred to more powerful end devices (screen, speaker) than what can be built in into a laptop, but again, the screens are obviously on the list of equipment for a home office and speakers as well (or a decent headset if a softphone is used).
But hey, the solution that works for one may not work for others.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2020-05-14

Ragnar, it's quite simple: Not your circus, not your monkeys. Hubertus likes it this way. It's his money. For himself, and for his people. He's a good one.

Volker Weber, 2020-05-14

@Ragnar, yes, it´s quite simple. I am a digital service provider for 30 years now and PCs are my tools. One is not enough...

... I even run an additional VM.

I have a couple of PCs running, a couple of sound systems, a couple of backup systems but a tiny Smart instead of an expensive car. I have 100MBit @ Home and in my Studio and 10 GBit in the office.

I have a German expression to describe my habits: "Hubraum statt Spoiler".

BTW: "audio signal of current laptops are competitive" to cheap on board sound systems from PCs and mobile phones. My sound systems are not mobile, my screens are not mobile but I never have to even plug 1 cable to be able to work. They all run the whole time, randomly restartet, never shut down. Why should I switch off my life?

Hubertus Amann, 2020-05-14

Most corporates don't care about Hubraum, Hubertus. They see computer kit only under cost and prestige aspects. So iPhones an MacBooks for top-managers, Surface with dual screens for the middle layer and single-screen-desktops for the work-force. Regardless of function.
I am a big fan that IT gets what they have to offer their users.
But one size does not fit all and our mileage varies always. It's totally useless that an accountant, a designer, a programmer, a PR person, a lawyer, a {put your tole here} are using the same stack.

Sven Richert, 2020-05-14

Sound like a hellhole of a company.

Volker Weber, 2020-05-14

@Sven, we use multiple screens like other people their desk. Move windows to another screen but have an eye on it, use Smaetime, Slack and Teams (all paid accounts) within one team meeting, including a shot with the iPhone to Slack. A short look to the left, ah, currently online, right screen IP phone call. Why should accounting miss this? We just drove our lawyer to book Slack and share channels with us.

Ideas need space :-)))

Is there any, and i mean really any valid reason why a CEO need better gear than staff? What a cheap habbit from the past.

Hubertus Amann, 2020-05-14

I am glad I don't work in Sven’s „most companies“... I actually use my built-in laptop display as a tertiary screen for those peripheral vision things, e.g. online presence list. My main work is on two full-size screens (I‘m not 100% sure now, but I think 24“). More recently many people got super wide screens (essentially double width), especially our product masterdata team with huge spreadsheets really benefit from these. The laptops people can choose are categorized by user profile, not „rank“.
Coming back to the topic of how far an allowance would get us, I think the super wide screens or two regular screens plus some peripherals like mouse, keyboard, etc. might be feasible for 1‘000$, but likely not with high-end screens. But a good desk and a good chair as well, that won‘t work.
Our guidance at the beginning of the WFH command was: take home from the office whatever you need and can carry. Get a check-out form, so our inventory „knows“ where the stuff is.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2020-05-14

It's not a hellhole of a company. We are super-priviliged highly-paid white collar workers. Professional services. We cannot do anything without IT anymore. But regrettably, we are not an IT firm. Besides "IT Security" standardisation is the golden calf. All desktops are identical, worldwide, all monitors are the same, all MacBooks, even all iPhones same size, same storage, same color. Many believe, that we're agile, because we use laptops, and can work with them at our desks, in meetings, en route and at home. High-level whining, I know.

Sven Richert, 2020-05-14

Interesting concept. Somebody decides what you really need. And that is what you get, no matter what your job is. Depending on your rank of course.

I bet the phones are all black. :-)

Volker Weber, 2020-05-14

Regrettably, yes.

Sven Richert, 2020-05-15

And unfortunately the realty in many, many companies. A firm I work with (not for) sends their staff on week-long trips far away to work day and night (well paid at least). People used to install Spotify on their laptops or occasionally (weekends) watched Netflix. Now they introduce a Zero-Trust proxy and blocked GMail, WhatsApp, Netflix and the like on the laptops no matter whether in the office or on hotel WLAN. The „advice“ now is to buy a personal laptop. Even worse, the security facilities now prevent them from working with clients, so that employees use their personal machines for business purposes, creatively poking holes into the DLP strategy while wasting productivity. People in the entire hierarchy that bring the money in are fuming, conversations contain terminology that cannot be quoted, but the compliance and ITS people wouldn’t care. Ah, btw, Home Office is a big thing, too. To support this, network access and USB is blocked, with the result of people not being able to print on the printers or use the webcams the company has just subsidized. You cannot make this up.

Peter Daum, 2020-05-16

Peter, that sounds terrible but familiar. People will find ways to do their jobs. And they will probably be neither secure nor compliant.

Hubert Stettner, 2020-05-17

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