While companies like Google, Citigroup, and Ford Motor Company have vowed to be more flexible, Twitter seemed to take the lead with an announcement last May that its employees would be working remotely permanently. “Twitter was one of the first companies to go to a work from home model in the face of COVID-19, but we don’t anticipate being one of the first to return to offices,” Jennifer Christie, the company’s head of human resources, said in a blog post on May 12, 2020. “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.”
Tech companies in smaller cities have also benefitted from the transition to remote work forced by the pandemic, Wall Street Journal writer Katherine Bindley reported in November. “For years, high-talent tech workers have been drawn to Silicon Valley, willing to put up with exorbitant housing prices and long commutes to benefit from the skill and experience of their colleagues, and the largess of employers and investors,” Bindley wrote. “The result, a culture of entrepreneurialism and inspiration, has been hard to match elsewhere. But the remote-work era ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic is upending not only where tech workers want to live and how much money they can make, but also what kinds of opportunities they are willing to consider.”
Deepinder Singh, founder of Bloomington, a Minnesota startup to help start innovation-driven businesses, told The Wall Street Journal he hadn’t gotten a single application from a big tech company in seven years, but in May he got more than 12 on each coast with another of his companies, 75F Inc. Consultant Kyla Brown told the Agence France-Presse news agency she left San Francisco for El Cerrito, a city about 16 miles away, to be closer to family for babysitting purposes. “Once upon a time, a reason why we wouldn’t have wanted to move was because we had friends who had kids the same age as ours and we saw them all the time,” Brown said last September. She added: “Practicality right now was the number one priority.”
Jimme Hendrix, a software developer in the Netherlands, told Bloomberg he quit his job when the company that hired him started preparing to bring employees back into the office. “During Covid I really started to see how much I enjoyed working from home,” he said.
“I can just do whatever I want around the house, like a quick chore didn’t have to wait until like 8 p.m. anymore, or I can go for a quick walk,” Hendrix said. Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M University professor, told Bloomberg that employers drawing a hard line should beware. “If you’re a company that thinks everything’s going back to normal, you may be right but it’s pretty risky to hope that’s the case,” he said.