Tesla CEO Elon Musk Doesn’t Think Remote Work is ‘Acceptable’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has declared remote work “no longer acceptable,” according to new reports. Tesla employees who want to work from home will need to appeal to Musk directly.

“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,” Musk wrote in an email reprinted by Electrik. “This is less than we ask of factory workers.” (Bloomberg also excerpted portions of the email.)

In a follow-up email, Musk underscored his apparent belief that managers are most effective when they’re physically present. “The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” he wrote. “This 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 also couldn’t resist a swipe against tech companies allowing remote and hybrid work: “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.”

In a follow-up Tweet, Musk seemed to confirm the emails’ authenticity.

If Musk succeeds in his effort to acquire Twitter, he’ll have an interesting situation on his hands, since the social-networking giant allows its employees to work remotely. In survey after survey over the past few years, technologists have indicated their overwhelming preference for remote and hybrid work—and given the insane demand for tech talent, they can afford to quit a job that doesn’t give them exactly what they want in terms of flexible schedules and work setups.

Recognizing the need to retain top talent, numerous tech companies (ranging from Google and Apple to Airbnb) have likewise embraced hybrid and/or remote work. Within these companies, managers and executives have made it clear that remote technologists are still expected to deliver their best work—but they can do so on their own schedule.

3 Responses to “Tesla CEO Elon Musk Doesn’t Think Remote Work is ‘Acceptable’”

  1. Jake_Leone

    So remote work is fine (in many cases better) for people in software development.
    Tesla and SpaceX produce hardware, and that requires significant onsite work.
    As has been pointed out, many software dev companies are almost 100% remote, and are producing great products all through the Pandemic and Great Sequester.
    Elon is wrong, on the idea that onsite work is necessary to create a product or company.
    Elon is really a manager type, he resonates with management. And management’s principle product, is management. Half the need for that product, management, disappears, if people are working from home.
    Things like group lunches, catered meetings, meetings between engineers/designers/support and customers, hey we have Zoom for that.
    I hear a lot of talk about the environment from the likes of John Kerry and Biden administration. An obvious way to cut back on Green house gas production is to make remote work a national option, that if an employer cannot prove onsite presence is necessary, a remote work option should exist (indeed it should be encouraged).
    Such a move would relieve pressure on fuel costs, which are a huge part of what is driving inflation. Taming inflation, that would be a major accomplishment for the Biden administration, and might really help Democrats in the mid-terms.
    Will Democrats do this? No way. It is impossible for the Democrats to garner the creative thinking necessary to even consider this.
    Hence the same unimaginative, machine driven, greasy, oily, polluting strategy of give the Oligarchs whatever they are whining for. Rich people, after all, they don’t pollute. Guys like Elon Musk, no he is a savior of the environment, isn’t he? John Kerry, thinking of this while flying his massive gas guzzling private jet, impossible for John Kerry to realize this. No, John Kerry is playing to Elon’s ego, and hoping that making everyone buy an overpriced electric car, that’s the answer, and thanks for the campaign donation. After all, electricity is alway green? Isn’t it? If it isn’t, it is burning natural gas which produces 40% less green house gas than coal, per kilowatt.
    This is why we need comment on every news article, and every Twitter message, on Facebook, and in the newspapers. Face it, most people are dumb can’t think of how to reduce waste. And our politicians know this, and they use it to play both sides to the detriment of the environment.

  2. Edward Tinker

    It is interesting, yesterday I read a pro Musk work where I tell you policy and they agreed with him. Another opinion, was of course the opposite. work 100% remotely and was hired in that position 5 yrs ago. A little more than half do this also, while the others were picked up locally, so they can go into the office once or twice a week.
    I would suggest that most leadership is extrovertly challenged, while many IT employees are Introvert minded. Management talks about how exciting it will be to travel and see their employees facde to face. This is the issue, management feels its best way to watch employees is seeing them. I understand it, as it is harder to figure out what your folks are doing. I think what they think is that their employees instead of working are play Doom (I’m old school), and that is a real fear, because, they, Just.Don’t.Know. what their folks are really doing. Although in reality, I worked at a place where contractors were not allowed to work from home. I was literally, literally the only one in the conference calls, the only one at my desk along with maybe a dozen other people and there were spots for 100 people (this was 10 yrs ago), so no one actually was checking on me face-to-face to see me working or not working.

  3. Foose

    Sometimes it really sounds like Elon believes his own nonsense, but it’s just simply a way to reduce headcount without paying severance.

    The first thing that happens when a company is taken private is headcount reduction — so, yes, Twitter will also “need people to work in office or leave the company”.

    The guy is a unique thinker. I don’t think most CEO’s would feel comfortable playing these type of games to reduce headcount so they simply don’t think of it. The best most companies can do is offer an early retirement package.