The LGBTQ dating app Grindr has lost half of its staff after the company ended its remote work policies and instructed employees to relocate to several new “hub” cities where the company has offices.
According to CNN, the company announced in August that all employees would be required to work in person, at least twice a week, at the company’s offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — all of which are among most expensive cities in the nation when it comes to cost-of-living.
The company gave those employees the choice of relocating to their respective teams’ newly assigned “hub” cities, or leaving the company with severance, according to the Communication Workers of America union.
Approximately 80 of Grindr’s 178 workers — 45% of all employees — were forced to leave the company as of August 31, the CWA said. The company offered a severance package for employees who declined to relocate.
However, the CWA characterized the return-to-work policy as a form of retaliation in response to an attempt to unionize by company employees, and characterized the severance packages given to those who left the company as an attempt “to silence workers from speaking out about their working conditions.”
“Rather than recognize the union, the company issued a new return-to-office policy requiring staff to relocate or quit,” the CWA said in a statement. The union has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Grindr with the National Labor Relations Board.
“These decisions have left Grindr dangerously understaffed and raises questions about the safety, security, and stability of the app for users,” Erick Cortez, a member of Grindr United-CWA, told the New York Post. “It is clear Grindr wants workers to be silenced and deterred from exercising our right to organize, regardless of the expense.”
A Grindr spokesperson told CNN that the union’s claims “have no merit.”
“We have full confidence in our team and their ability to continue to drive the business forward and make the world and lives of our users freer, more tolerant, and more just,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We are looking forward to returning to the office in a hybrid model in October and further improving productivity and collaboration for our entire team.”
According to Bloomberg, Grindr CEO George Arison, who spoke at a recent Goldman Sachs conference in San Francisco, said job losses were expected and would improve the company’s books.
“The team will be smaller than where we were before and where we want to be,” Arison said. “So that’ll obviously impact margin in a positive way in the near term. But I also think that shows that you can have a lot of leverage in this business because you don’t need that big of a team to do the things that we need to do.”
Grindr isn’t the only company that has cracked down on telework opportunities, which reached an all-time high during the lockdowns and social distancing measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the flexibility that working from home afforded workers, as well as the money that people managed to save that would otherwise be spent on meals, commutes, and child care expenses, has made teleworking opportunities more desirable to employees who believe they can be as productive working from home, and can more easily make time for their families and personal lives.
According to the Conference Board’s August survey of 185 human resource executives, 73% of organizations reported challenges getting white-collar employees to return to the workplace, and 71% of employers requiring workers to report to a central physical location have reported challenges in retaining workers, who may be motivated to seek employment elsewhere, reports the Post.
Last month, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy warned employees that they would have to report to work in person at least three days per week or could risk termination, and indicated that the company would be seeking to enforce that requirement by closely monitoring attendance. Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, recently began enforcing its own three-day-per-week minimum requirement, threatening to fire those who didn’t comply.
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