Elon Musk’s back-to-office order makes Tesla office in Palo Alto test case for Silicon Valley

“If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned”

Elon Musk (Getty Images, iStock, Twitter)
Elon Musk (Getty Images, iStock, Twitter)

Memos from Elon Musk to Tesla office employees: Either show up at your desk for 40-plus hours a week or pack it up for another job.

The founder of the now Austin-based carmaker has issued edicts that demanded “everyone at Tesla” work from the office full time or find a new job, according to two company memos cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The world’s richest man wrote that “remote work is no longer acceptable,” and added on Twitter that those who think offices are antiquated should “pretend to work somewhere else.”

In the first of two memos, Musk wrote 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,” he noted

Tesla kept its Fremont factory open in defiance of local health orders in 2020. The company has since moved its headquarters to Austin but maintains major engineering offices in Palo Alto.

“There are of course companies that don’t require this,” Musk wrote, “but when was the last time they shipped a great new product?”

Musk issued a similar mandate at his other company, SpaceX, according to multiple reports.

It’s unclear if he would institute similar rules at San Francisco-based Twitter, which he agreed last month to buy for $44 billion. Mandating an office return would be a major change for Twitter, which has said most of its employees could stay remote permanently.

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Musk has since raised questions about the social media company’s fake accounts and said the deal is “on hold.” Twitter officials maintain they expect the deal to close.

Remote work has been the subject of ongoing debate ever since the coronavirus pandemic led wide swaths of the U.S. workforce to work from home and embrace virtual meetings over Zoom.

Many studies have shown that remote work has no discernible impact on productivity — and may even improve it.

Nick Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University and one of the leading experts on remote work, estimated last month that 25 percent to 35 percent of U.S. workers still work from home.

Tesla’s rules are stricter than many large companies that are allowing workers to stay home at least part-time, according to the Chronicle.

Many tech giants have settled on a hybrid approach, arguing in-person collaboration is essential. Google announced in March it expected employees to return to the office three days a week. Apple told employees the same, though recently paused the plan after coronavirus case rates began to surge in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

Others have embraced the idea of working remotely, citing both the benefits for employees – including flexibility and reduced commute times – and competitive advantages in hiring for their employers.

Last month, TaskRabbit, the worker-for-hire app, said it would be closing all of its offices, allowing employees to work from wherever they wanted. “Coming in just for the sake of coming in, I don’t think is going to work,” CEO Ania Smith told the Chronicle.

[San Francisco Chronicle] – Dana Bartholomew

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Tesla's Elon Musk (Getty, iStock)
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