Update 9:33am: Update to lede and headline for accuracy, email was sent to executive staff.
Elon Musk sent an email to Tesla employees on Tuesday revealing the company would no longer allow employees to work remotely or they would be forced to leave the company. The “To” line of the email seems to indicate it is aimed at executive staff only.
“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,” Musk said in the email.
Remote work has been popular since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as it limited human interaction to decrease the possibility of spreading the virus. Some employers have continued to allow their employees to work remotely, but Tesla is not willing to offer this to employees unless they are “particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible.” Musk said he would review and approve those exceptions personally and 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.”
Musk later responded to a Tweet that included the email from @WholeMarsBlog, a popular Tesla enthusiast account. Musk seems to believe remote work does not accomplish much, as he stated, “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”
The stance questions what Musk will do if he actually assumes the role of CEO temporarily when his acquisition deal with Twitter goes through. Twitter is notorious for supporting remote work for its employees. According to Bloomberg, entrepreneur Keith Rabois wrote in April that employees at Twitter could be “in for a rude awakening” if and when Musk takes over. The Twitter deal is still expected to go through, but Musk has raised questions about the deal recently, as he questions the number of legitimate human-owned accounts on the platform.
Musk has commented in the past that Americans are unwilling to work, while Chinese workers are a different story. “They won’t just be burning the midnight oil. They will be burning the 3 a.m. oil,” Musk said during an interview with Financial Times. “They won’t even leave the factory type of thing, whereas, in America, people are trying to avoid going to work at all.”