I have been reading a lot about Twitter and its purchase recently and even wrote my thoughts down on the process a few days ago. But the reality proved to be more bitter than our worst guesses: People worked over 84 hours a week and then at least 50% of those were fired a few days after. The layoffs happened via email but they locked people out of their systems and wiped their laptops during the night; some never even had the chance to read those emails.
During those discussions, I encountered one of the tweets of Esther Crawford (@esthercrawford), who is an employee of Twitter. On 2 Nov she retweeted a colleague of hers who took Esther's photo sleeping on the floor:
Whilst I admire their dedication to their jobs and I can't imagine the pressure they've been under, my problem with the situation is how she promotes this situation as "sacrifice", and then went on to promote this "sacrifice" as something you should aspire to:
Let me word this clearly: This is not normal, shouldn't be normalised and you should not set an example like this for your fellow engineering teams.
Twitter is Setting an Example
Twitter is world's one of the biggest platforms and a lot of engineering teams around the world look up to them to align their ways of working with theirs. Maybe it's unfair pressure on Twitter engineers, but it's the reality.
So, when you share sleeping in the office as a desirable trait in an engineer, you set an example from it. Esther Crawford is followed by 30.2K followers and while not everyone will see it that way, if enough Twitter engineers share similar stories publicly, it can gain traction.
And believe me when I say this: Not everyone wants to work for someone as toxic as Elon Musk. But if Twitter sets an example from it, people will follow nevertheless. Unfortunately, that's the reality of Silicon Valley and beyond these days.
Like I said before, I don't like how Musk operates. He's a toxic person with too much money, and he put himself into a situation where he had to buy Twitter. Because of that, his first week at Twitter has been erratic. Firing 50% of your employees and not writing or signing the email yourself already set the bar quite low for upcoming CEOs with layoffs in their companies.
People are under an immense amount of pressure at Twitter, and they are expected to play by Musk's new caveman rules or leave. But that's still no excuse to promote that environment publicly when the house is on fire.
I understand that remaining Twitter employees want to show solidarity, but that would be pretending that everything's fine while it isn't.
You may think that I am a white-privileged cushy-job man that has never done overtime because he's lucky. I assure you, I'm not. I had my fair share of overtime and sleeping in office environments.
When I was working in my first job (Netron), we were building Hyundai Turkey's Dealer Management System, which took us 2 years to finish. Whilst deploying the product to the production environment and distributing it to dealers, we slept at the office for 4 days straight. The first two nights I slept in one of the cars on the dealership on the ground floor, with no heating and cuddling to my jacket. For the next two, I put 4 pouffes/ottomans together and slept on them for a few hours each night. On the 5th day, I went home, stinking because I didn't change my clothes for 5 days and slept in them.
On another occasion, I slept overnight in the Hyundai office on an office chair because the SQL Server Replication was down and I was rebuilding it for 90 dealer client databases.
When I was at ING, the entire Core Banking Team did 4 hours of overnight every weekday and worked on Saturdays for 4 weeks straight. We ate bagels as dinner because the company did not serve food and ordered bagels to the office.
So, I know what I am talking about when I say this is not normal and you should not aspire to it. This is a toxic workplace behaviour and although sometimes you may need to do it, you should not promote it. Especially if you have 30K followers and you work at one of the biggest social media companies on the planet.