Elon Musk Tells Staff “Remote work is no longer acceptable”

In a leaked email to Tesla staff, CEO Elon Musk has told executives they must return to the office at least 40 hours a week or, “depart Tesla,” arguing that 40 hours a week is, “less than we ask of factory workers.”

Musk then went on to say, “If there are particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly,” then adding that the offices attended must be a main Tesla office with no exceptions being made for remote branch offices.

Elon Musk’s Email to Staff: Remote work is no longer acceptable

On Tuesday (May 31, 2022), Elon Musk sent the following email to his executive staff at Tesla:

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.

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.


And if recent reports have shown us anything, it’s that Tesla is not alone in the “get back to the office” trend…

How US companies are thinking about remote work

Google’s remote work policy:

After more than 2 years of working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Google told San Fransisco Bay area employees they’d have to return to the office starting this past April (2022).

The company’s hybrid work model means most workers will have to work from the office at least three days a week.

Apple’s remote work policy:

After gaining some serious backlash over its original plan to require all employees to return to the office at least 3 days a week, Apple will roll out a pilot program that has some employees return to in-person work two days a week.

Goldman Sachs’ remote work policy

After making his stance clear throughout the pandemic that remote work would not be the “new normal” for Goldman Sachs, CEO David Solomon has set a hard line on requiring employees to return to the office 5 days a week.

Airbnb’s remote work policy:

Perhaps the most progressive take on remote work policy comes from Brian Chesky, the CEO and co-founder of Airbnb.

Chesky is soon to roll out a new new policy in September which would allow his 6,000 employees to work remotely year round, plus up to 3-months of the year in 170 countries in each location.

More so, Airbnb employee salaries will not change if they move elsewhere in the US with a lower cost of living, as their salaries will be determined by a single pay tier for a given role instead of location-based tiers.

Is remote work becoming more common in the US?

While these companies have made their stance on remote work clear, it’s in direct contrast to other major corporations like Meta, Twitter, Lyft, Spotify, HubSpot, and Salseforce which have all announced they will offer remote work options indefinitely.

With so much pushback and defiance when it comes to these new “return to office” policies, and so many big players promising remote work options forever, it’s important to consider whether or not remote work hinders or helps companies.

Is remote work beneficial to companies?

How remote work impacts employers is a topic that has been carefully scrutinized and debated since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But all the evidence seems to be pointing in one clear direction.

Studies have shown that working from home can lead to increased productivity and even go as far as to say that companies that invest in remote or hybrid work policies can boost their profits.

Not to mention, 45% of employees say they would quit their current jobs if their employer began requiring 100% in-person work. This tells us that for the sake of retention alone, the benefits of offering flexible options like remote work, hybrid work, or a 4-day work week are hard to ignore.

Should companies consider a 4-day work week?

Another industry trend that cannot be left out of the conversation is the transition many companies are making to the 4-day work week.

It’s no secret that studies say working less than 40 hours per week can lead to more productivity, making it an attractive option for job seekers and employers alike.

In fact, U.S. government officials introduced legislation in December of 2021 to reduce the five-day workweek from 40 hours to 32 through the “32-Hour Workweek Act.”

With countless benefits beyond increased productivity including fewer employee burnouts, increased flexibility, and improved mental health, a 4-day work week is an option that employers can’t afford to ignore forever.

The final word on US company remote work policies

When 61 percent of workers say they’re interested in remote work, companies that stand firm in their stance on returning to the office run the risk of limiting the talent pool when it comes to recruiting and hiring top industry talent.

Not to mention, with major fortune-500 companies adapting to hybrid work or remote work options, companies — like Tesla — that fail to meet employees where they’re at risk of defiance to new policies, negative impacts on retention, and backlash from the public causing potentially irreversible damage to their brands.

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