Elon Musk Tells Tesla Staff They Must Return to the Office or Leave Company

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock (12920901ig)Elon MuskCostume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of In America: An Anthology of Fashion, Arrivals, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA - 02 May 2022.
David Fisher/Shutterstock / David Fisher/Shutterstock

Elon Musk is done with remote work. In a series of emails to Tesla employees on May 31, the richest man on the planet made it clear that he will no longer accept his executive staff working from home.

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In the first leaked email posted on Twitter — sent to ExecStaff with the subject line “Remote work is no longer acceptble [sic]” — Musk wrote, “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.”

He added, “If there are particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly. Moreover, 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.”

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When asked on Twitter whether he had any additional comment “to people who think coming into work is an antiquated concept,” Musk replied, “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

In case he wasn’t sufficiently clear, in a second leaked email, (subject line: “To be super clear”) obtained by Electrek, Musk wrote that everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week.

“Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned. The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence. That is why I lived in the factory so much – so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

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Musk also took a jab at other companies that don’t require full-time office work, saying, “when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while.”

“Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in,” he added.

Bloomberg reported that Silicon Valley venture capitalist Keith Rabois, who knows Musk from their days at PayPal, wrote that employees at Twitter — which allows permanent remote work — are “in for a rude awakening.”

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Essentially, Musk’s email to his Tesla staff suggests Twitter’s policy could change once he takes over.

Musk’s stance is in stark contrast with the attitude of several other big name companies. In April for example, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said on Twitter that employees will now have the possibility to “live and work anywhere.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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