LGBTQ dating app Grindr has lost nearly half its staff after ending its remote work policy in an attempt to force workers back in person, according to reports.
According to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Grindr announced on 4 August a return-to-office mandate that gave employees a two-week period to decide between two options: relocate to a newly assigned “hub” city to work in-person twice a week with their respective teams, or leave the company with severance. Some of the new “hub” cities included New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
As of 31 August, the CWA estimated that 80 of Grindr’s 178 workers left the company. The return-to-office mandate arrived two weeks after approximately 100 Grindr employees launched a union campaign to protect the staff amid the widespread layoffs wreaking havoc throughout the tech industry and the wave of political attacks on LGBTQ-identifying people. The group submitted plans to form a union to US labor authorities, according to Bloomberg.
The CWA alleged that Grindr’s return-to-office mandate was a retaliatory response intended to shut down talks of unionising. “Rather than recognise the union, the company issued a new return-to-office policy requiring staff to relocate or quit,” the CWA stated. After filing an unfair labour practice charge against Grindr with the National Labor Relations Board, the CWA has made it clear that it intends to take a stand against the tech company.
“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,” a Grindr spokesperson told The Independent, saying that the CWA’s allegations have “no merit”.
More than three years after the Covid-19 pandemic was at its height, the ongoing dispute signals that tensions between employers and workers concerning return-to-office policies have not simmered down.
Millions of employees, like those of Grindr, were forced to work remotely during the pandemic. Since then, many business leaders have tried to bring back workers into the office to mixed results. 73 per cent of organisations reported challenges getting workers to return to the workplace and 71 per cent of employers that are mandating their on-site work policy reported difficulty retaining workers, according to The Conference Board’s August survey of 185 US HR executives.
Despite the data spelling lower retention rates, many industry leaders at big companies are keen on enforcing in-person attendance, threatening disciplinary action against employees if they are otherwise non-compliant. Recently, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told employees in a “fishbowl” chat that if they don’t get with the program, they should consider employment elsewhere. According to company policy, employees may be forced into “voluntary resignation.”
“It’s past the time to disagree and commit,” he said in a recording of the meeting obtained by Insider. “And if you can’t disagree and commit, I also understand that, but it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon because we are going back to the office at least three days a week, and it’s not right for all of our teammates to be in three days a week and for people to refuse to do so.”
Another tech juggernaut, Meta, has reportedly told employees that by 5 September those already “assigned to an office” and mandated to come in three days a week, would have their attendance tracked by management. Lori Goler, Meta’s head of human resources, wrote in a post to Workplace, the company’s internal forum: “Repeated violations may result in disciplinary action, up to and including a performance rating drop and, ultimately, termination if not addressed.”
In light of the push against remote work, numerous tech employees have taken to anonymous message boards on sites like Reddit and Blind in the past month to discuss their legal rights as employees. Particularly, remote employees who were hired a year ago have been seeking answers on whether their employers can legally force them to work in an office.
The Independent has contacted Grindr for comment.