Elon Musk tells Tesla executives to return to the office or leave the job

Billionaire chief executive says people who don't go to the office 'should pretend to work somewhere else'

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The world’s richest man appears to have had it with employees working from home.

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, waded into the return-to-office debate on Twitter by elaborating on an email he apparently sent on Tuesday to the electric car maker’s executive staff.

Under the subject line “Remote work is no longer acceptble” [sic], Mr Musk wrote that “anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers”.

Mr Musk went on to specify that the office “must be a main Tesla office, not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties, for example being responsible for Fremont factory human relations, but having your office be in another state”.

While Mr Musk did not directly address whether the email was authentic, he strongly suggested it was by responding to a follower asking him to address people who think going into work is an antiquated concept. “They should pretend to work somewhere else,” he replied.

It is not the first time Mr Musk’s tough-love treatment of employees has come up.

About two weeks before Mr Musk reached a deal to acquire Twitter, Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur, tweeted an anecdote that speaks to his friend’s management style. At Space Exploration Technologies, Mr Musk once noticed a group of interns milling around while they queued for coffee.

Mr Musk viewed this as an affront to productivity. According to Mr Rabois, who knows Mr Musk from their days at PayPal Holdings, Mr Musk threatened to fire all the interns if it happened again and had security cameras installed to monitor compliance.

Mr Rabois wrote in April that employees at Twitter — one of the most prominent companies to allow permanent remote work — are “in for a rude awakening”. Mr Musk’s apparent email to Tesla’s executive staff suggests Twitter’s policy will change once he takes over.

The reference to Tesla factory workers is also interesting in light of the situation at the car maker’s plant in Shanghai.

Thousands of staff there have been effectively locked in for months, working 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Until recently, many were sleeping on the factory floor as part of a closed-loop system meant to keep Covid out and cars rolling off the production line.

Workers brought in to bring the factory back up to speed are being shuttled between the plant and their sleeping quarters — either disused factories or an old military camp — with day and night-shift workers sharing beds in makeshift dorms.

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Updated: June 01, 2022, 2:10 PM
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