Even as the world moves towards remote work, and several companies declaring that they’ll permanently work from home, Elon Musk continues to do things differently.
Elon Musk has asked Tesla employees to resign if they can’t work a minimum of 40 hours a week from the office. “Remote work is no longer acceptable,” Musk wrote in an email to Tesla employees. “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 said.
Musk said that he would personally review applications for people who wished to be exempt from the rule. “If there are particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly,” he said.
A while later, Musk sent another email clarifying his position. This email was titled “To be super clear”. “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,” Musk wrote this time.
“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,” he added. Musk famously used to sleep in Tesla’s factory during the early days of building the company.
“There are of course companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while,” Musk continued. “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 concluded.
Musk’s stance is diametrically opposite to that of many tech companies, which have encouraged employees to work from home. Companies like Twitter had earlier said that employees could work from home forever, and Airbnb recently announced that employees could live and work from 180 countries around the world. Some companies, like Shopify and Quora, have officially gone fully remote, and have shut down their offices.
But Musk has never been particularly conventional, and now seems to be again going against the grain by mandating that Tesla employees necessarily work from office. It probably plays a part that Tesla is primarily a manufacturing company — it’s possibly easier to write software while working remotely than oversee the manufacture of cars. But Tesla also writes a lot of software that powers its self-driving and other feature, and Musk seems to have given his coders the same diktat as the rest of Tesla. It remains to be seen how Musk’s latest memo is received, but it’s once again clear that Elon Musk appears to be charting his own path while building his growing portfolio of businesses.