Elon Musk says working from home is 'morally wrong'

Tesla chief executive last year told employees they needed to be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours per week or leave

Elon Musk said that there are only 'two or three' days in a year when he does not put in some 'meaningful amount of work'. EPA
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Billionaire businessman Elon Musk hit out at people who work from home, saying that it is an insult to those who are required to physically be in the workplace.

“I am a big believer that people are more productive when they are [there] in person,” Mr Musk, chief executive of electric vehicle company Tesla, said in an interview with CNBC.

“It’s not just a productivity thing – I think it’s morally wrong.”

Mr Musk also brought Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution, into the discussion.

“The whole notion of work from home is a bit like the fake Marie Antoinette quote, ‘let them eat cake’ … it's like, really? You are going [to] work from home, and you are going [to] make everyone else who made your car come work in the factory … the people that come fix your house, they can't work from home, but you can?” Mr Musk asked.

“Does that seem morally right? That's messed up.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to legions of workers becoming home-based, changed corporate norms, upended travel and boosted demand for shared office space that offers flexibility amid uncertainty.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, employees have been leaving their jobs at much higher rates than normal in what has been called “The Great Resignation”, as they seek a better work-life balance and more flexibility.

In March last year, a survey by financial services company Prudential found that 42 per cent of remote workers planned to look for a new job if their company did not continue to offer options to work from home in the long term.

Mr Musk has been a strong advocate for return-to-office policies.

In June last year, he told Tesla employees that “anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla”.

“This is less than we ask of factory workers,” he said at the time.

He also specified that the office must be a main Tesla office, not a remote branch unrelated to job duties.

Micro-blogging company Twitter was one of the first technology companies that allowed its employees to work from home permanently.

In May 2020, Jack Dorsey, the company’s chief executive at the time, announced the decision.

However, in November last year, Twitter's new owner Mr Musk sent a companywide email saying he was ending the permanent work from home policy.

He asked employees to come to the office at least 40 hours a week and also indicated that any alternative arrangements would need to be personally approved by him.

“The laptop class is living in La-La land,” Mr Musk told CNBC.

“People should get off their … moral high horse with the work-from-home.”

Mr Musk said that he works “seven days a week” and that there are only “two or three” days in a year when he does not put in some “meaningful amount of work”.

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Updated: May 17, 2023, 5:16 PM