TikTok, the China-based company owned by ByteDance, is reportedly causing distress among its US employees with the introduction of a new internal app called “MyRTO.” This app will track office attendance and enforce a minimum requirement of three days per week starting in October. The New York Times reported that employees have expressed frustration and concern over this policy, as well as the requirement to provide explanations for any deviations. The company has warned that a deliberate disregard of the attendance policy may result in disciplinary action and impact performance reviews. Each employee’s office badge data will be accessible to their supervisor and HR personnel. The strict tone of the communications about the return-to-office policy and the dedicated app for tracking attendance have surprised TikTok employees. TikTok has also faced calls for a ban in the US.
An anonymous employee spoke to the New York Times, stating that the app and threats of punishment were unnecessary and that colleagues were now fearful of the consequences of non-compliance. TikTok spokeswoman Jodi Seth stated that the purpose of the app is to provide clarity and context to employees and leaders, fostering transparent communication around attendance expectations. The company has approximately 7,000 US employees and offices in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Internal backlash against the return-to-office push may pose additional challenges for TikTok, which has been striving to avoid a potential ban in the US due to concerns over national security and data privacy. TikTok has denied any wrongdoing and has made efforts to address these concerns, including committing to move all US data to Oracle-managed servers.
In recent months, TikTok’s efforts to charm US lawmakers and the public have seemingly cooled the push for a ban. The company has launched patriotic commercials to improve its image. TikTok is not the only tech company facing employee dissatisfaction over return-to-office policies. Grindr, an LGBTQ dating app, has seen almost half of its workforce leave after requiring employees to relocate to a central office and work on-site for two days a week. The employees claim that this requirement is a retaliatory measure following plans to unionize. Amazon has also faced internal criticism over its return-to-work plan, with CEO Andy Jassy warning that those who fail to meet the requirements may have limited prospects at the company.
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