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Another exodus of employees appears to be underway on Twitter, as many workers rejected Elon Musk’s terms to stay at the company, choosing instead to leave, according to several current and former employees.

As the deadline approached for Twitter employees to respond to Elon Musk’s ultimatum to pledge to work ‘extremely hard’ at the company or leave, some employees appeared to publicly indicate that they had chosen the latter option. On Thursday afternoon, Twitter staffers began posting the hi emoji, which has become a signal that someone is leaving the company. One Twitter employee said in a tweet that deciding to join the company was “one of the easiest decisions ever. Deciding to leave today was 100% the opposite.

Meanwhile, an internal company Slack channel was filled with employees displaying the salute emoji after the 5 p.m. ET deadline, indicating that they had chosen not to sign Musk’s pledge and quit. company, employees told CNN.

Remaining Twitter employees had until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday to decide whether they wanted to be part of the culture Musk wants to implement at the social media company, or actually quit, according to an email. he sent to staff on Wednesday.

A former Twitter executive who recently left the company described Thursday’s employee departures as a “mass exodus”.

Thursday evening after the walkouts, employees remaining at the company received an email warning them that the company’s offices will be temporarily closed and badge access will be restricted until Monday, according to a copy of the email obtained by CNN from a current Twitter employee. Musk’s team also closed offices during the mass layoffs earlier this month out of security concerns and apparent fears that outgoing employees would try to sabotage the business by leaving.

Two Twitter employees told CNN ahead of the Thursday deadline that they planned to reject the ultimatum, citing a toxic work environment they say the billionaire introduced. Another Twitter employee told CNN on Wednesday that they are still weighing the decision, saying Musk’s email “felt like a punch in the stomach because no matter how you feel about wanting to stay or wanting leaving, you were forced to make a decision and feel like you were up against the clock to make the best decision for you and your family.

The employee added: “These decisions are not limited to 24 hours.”

Musk told employees on Wednesday that his goal is to build “Twitter 2.0” and employees who choose to stay will have to commit to working “long, high-intensity hours” and presumably agree to Musk’s request for Twitter employees. , who have largely been working remotely, to return to work in the office. As of noon Thursday, employees still did not know what exceptions to remote work would be granted if they decided to stay, one employee said.

Later Thursday, amid an apparent scramble by management to avoid losing too many workers to the ultimatum, Musk sent an email to staff trying to clarify his position on the job at distance, according to email text obtained by CNN from a Twitter employee who asked not to be identified.

“When it comes to remote work, all that’s required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for making sure you’re making a great contribution,” Musk said in the email, adding that workers should attend face-to-face meetings at least once. a month.

Twenty minutes later, Musk sent a follow-up email saying, “At the risk of stating the obvious, any manager who falsely claims that someone reporting to them is doing a great job or that a role given is essential, whether aloof or not, will be left out of society.”

The decision to issue an ultimatum came after Musk earlier this month fired half of Twitter’s staff, reducing its workforce to around 3,700 employees, and also reportedly cut many of Twitter’s contractors. He also ousted its senior management and dissolved the board of directors. Musk also recently fired some employees for criticizing him in tweets or on internal Slack channels.

“I don’t want to stay to build a product that is poisoned inside and out,” said one of the employees who plans to reject the ultimatum, but requested anonymity to avoid putting the blame. rupture in danger. “Everyone has a price to some degree and this allowance gives me comfort in seeking a better environment over time despite the economy.”

This employee said that management now seems to have become concerned about the number of people considering leaving and “jostling” to convince talent to stay. Twitter, which reportedly eliminated most of its PR team, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another Twitter employee, who asked not to be named, shared similar concerns and said he also planned to leave the company.

A recently laid off employee who remains in contact with former colleagues told CNN that everyone they spoke to planned to reject Musk’s ultimatum and leave the company. “People can’t ignore the public teasing and firing of other employees,” the former employee told CNN. “In the same vein, they can’t ignore or feel comfortable working for someone who has handled the past few weeks like Elon.”

“People don’t want to sacrifice their sanity and family life to make the richest man in the world even richer,” the former employee added.

But the decision may not be so easy for others. The ultimatum comes during a tough time for the tech industry, following mass layoffs and hiring freeze announcements at many major companies, including Meta, Amazon, Lyft and others. Employees working in the United States from other countries could also risk losing their work visa if they leave the company.

A fourth employee told CNN on Thursday that he plans to stay with the company “because change is rarely influenced from outside.”

The shakeup likely to result from the ultimatum will be the final piece of “fundamental organizational restructuring” after Musk’s takeover, he said in a Delaware court on Wednesday during a trial over his Tesla salary package. .

Musk said in Wednesday’s email that the “new Twitter” will be “much more engineering-focused,” leaving some non-engineering workers wondering if their jobs might be in jeopardy even if they choose to stay.

“There’s no assurance in that, you’re just saying to yourself, ‘I might be able to defend myself, I couldn’t,'” said the employee who expressed uncertainty about the decision. “What’s behind that door?” You do not know. The only door you know is certain is the exit door.

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