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Tesla WFH policy: A closer look at Elon Musk’s opposition to remote work

Bynewsmagzines

Jun 8, 2023
Tesla WFH policy: A closer look at Elon Musk's opposition to remote work

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Elon Musk is firmly against work-from-home.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called work-from-home “morally wrong.” 
  • Musk says he works seven days a week and just takes two to three days off a year. 
  • He has imposed a strict in-office policy at Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called working from home “morally wrong.” Here’s a look at why he’s no fan of remote work. 

Elon Musk has been very critical of work-from-home and starting in summer 2022, told Tesla executive staff that they needed to return to the office or resign. 

That same summer, Tesla layoffs impacted about 10% of the company.

The billionaire Tesla founder said exceptions to the new policy could be made in the case of “particularly exceptional contributors,” but he would have to approve it himself.

There are only three active remote positions posted on the Tesla careers website as of June 2023, including construction manager, sales manager and START Program Technician. 

The CEO emphasized the importance of factory workers — who have been required to come into work throughout the pandemic — being able to see senior staff working alongside them.

“It’s like really, you’re going to work from home and you’re going to make everyone else who made your car come in [to] the factory?” Musk said in a May 2023 interview with CNBC. “The people who make your food that gets delivered, they can’t work from home? The people that fix your house, they can’t work from home?”

Musk said that people working from home was as much a “moral issue” as it was a productivity one. 

The Tesla WFH challenge

Nick Gallimore, director of innovation at Advanced People Management, told Insider that Musk would need “something of a miracle if he expects people to even stick with him … let alone be more productive.”

“Musk’s comments – that remote work simply can’t be as effective or as productive as working from a physical location – put him in a small minority of business owners who are betting the future of their organizations on the organization design principles of the past,” he said.

Gallimore, who consults on HR issues, added: “The odds are stacked against him: with many different pieces of research suggesting that as few as 10% of people actually want to work from the office full-time.”

Nicole Penn, president of an advertising and marketing agency called EGC Group, told Insider: “Every employee has environments that either increase or decrease their productivity. If Tesla’s culture is built on collaboration and ideas born on the factory floor, it’s not possible for a remote team member to plug into that efficiently.”

Penn believes the inflexibility of working in the office full-time is “antiquated” and ruling out any remote or hybrid workers excludes potential high-performing candidates. “You have to wonder if Elon will retain top talent that needs and appreciates more flexibility,” she added.

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