Elon Musk Takes Rigid Stance on Remote Work

Email posted to Twitter purportedly tells Tesla staff remote work only OK past 40-hour mark
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2022 11:16 AM CDT
Elon Musk Takes Rigid Stance on Remote Work
In this handout photo, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shake hands during a meeting in Porto Feliz, Brazil, on May 20.   (Cleverson Oliveira/Ministry of Communications via AP, File)

Elon Musk has made clear to his Tesla workforce that remote work is not acceptable. Nor is it "acceptble," as the subject line of an email apparently sent to Tesla employees Tuesday and later posted to Twitter made clear. The brief email explains 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." Further, that in-office work can't be done in 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."

Bloomberg reports Musk didn't verify the authenticity of the email, but when asked on Twitter what he would say to anyone who thought in-office work is a thing of the past, he replied, "They should pretend to work somewhere else." Electrek also posts what it says is a follow-up email from Musk, subject line, "To be super clear." It doubles down on the message of the first, attributing Tesla's success in part to him having "lived in the factory so much." It continues: "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."

The email signs off with this: "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." Bloomberg flags the reference to factory workers in the first email, pointing out the situation at Tesla's Shanghai plant: In order to prevent COVID from interrupting production, thousands of workers have been "effectively locked in" for months, working 12-hour days six days a week and sleeping on the factory floor or in shared temporary dorms.

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In a separate opinion piece for the New York Times, longtime Musk critic Edward Niedermeyer deflates Musk's line about spending so much time in Tesla's factories. "What he left out of his self-aggrandizing was the reality for his employees," writes Niedermeyer. "His presence brought no real manufacturing expertise to bear, just the overbearing pressure of a boss whose public shaming was punctuated by declarations like 'I can be on my own private island with naked supermodels, drinking mai tais—but I'm not.'" (More Elon Musk stories.)

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