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Advice to laid-off Twitter employees being asked to come back

Green Hornet and Kato running away from an explosion

If you were laid off from Twitter last week and receive an email this week asking you to come back, here’s my advice: Unless you need immediate income or medical insurance*, DON’T.

For my readers outside the United States: Remember that Universal Healthcare — a given in high-income countries except in the U.S., where it’s seen as suspiciously socialist — healthcare insurance is provided by your employer.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s a clear signal to management that you need them more than they need you. Given that there’s been an unusual amount of silence from management and the reports from insiders that some Twitter employees have been “throwing coworkers under the bus” to preserve their jobs (listen the latest episode of the Hard Fork podcast for details), returning communicates to management that your situation is so dire that you’d be willing to take a hellish certainty over an uncertain freedom.
  2. Your return could be short-lived. The new ownership started only a couple of weeks ago. The layoffs started only a couple of days ago. The calls to return started only a couple of hours ago. This is the surest sign of a team without a plan that’s changing direction and priorities on a moment-by-moment basis, following the whims of a mercurial, capricious, pathologically impulsive owner. You could very be easily get laid off again — maybe even before you get re-onboarded!
  3. You might not return to the same role. This is a company with a mandate to become profitable — and quickly! — in a down economy. They also eliminated whole groups who didn’t necessarily provide immediate returns, but were incredibly important, such as the Accessibility team. If you return, you’ll be put to work on a project whose sole purpose is to generate short-term financial returns.
  4. You will face long hours in an attempt to meet unrealistic deadlines with draconian consequences. There are reports on the anonymous professional social networking app Blind that remaining Twitter employees have assignments along the lines of “implement feature X by [a ridiculously close date] or you’re fired,” which is why you’ve got photos of people sleeping at Twitter offices like this:
Twitter employee sleeps on floor

If you can afford not to, don’t go back. You’re being asked to go back to Hell.

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