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Musk Draws Line in the Sand on COVID-era Work From Home Trend

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: June 1, 2022
Elon Musk put his foot down to Tesla executives on the harmful trend of working from home induced by COVID-19 measures and lockdowns.
Empty streets in Beijing resulting from the Chinese Communist Party’s hysterical Zero-COVID lockdowns on May 10, 2022. Tesla CEO Elon Musk told managers in an email that working from home will no longer be tolerated. (Image: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Tesla boss Elon Musk has reportedly told company executives that working from home will no longer be tolerated. 

Citing an email Musk “apparently sent Tuesday to the electric-car maker’s executive staff,” Bloomberg reported on June 1 that the world’s richest man was unambiguous in his requirements, “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 added. 

Musk clarified that the execs must attend “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.”

MORE ON TWITTER AND MUSK

A copy of the email appears to have shown up on Twitter, published by an account self-identifying as a “$tsla holder.”

The actual text of the email clarifies, “If there are particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly.”

And the veracity of the command appears to be legitimate.

Another user asked Musk on Twitter, “hey elon [sic] a lot of people are talking about this leaked email, any additional comment to people who think coming into work is an antiquated concept?”

To which Musk replied coldly, “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

Implications for Twitter staff

As Musk still has his heart set on acquiring social media platform Twitter after regulatory clearance is obtained in October, staff of the company may be correct that their life is about to change. 

In mid-May, investigative journalism team Project Veritas caught a Twitter senior engineer admitting on hidden camera to a woman he believed he was on a date with that not only had the culture at Twitter become distinctively communist, but that productivity was in the toilet.

When asked about Musk’s acquisition, Siru Murugesan told his pseudo-date, “Our jobs are at stake.”

“He’s [Musk] a capitalist, and we weren’t really operating like capitalists. More like, very socialist.”

Murugsean added while laughing, “Like, we’re all like commie as [expletive].”

The date asked him to “describe communism inside Twitter,” to which the engineer replied, “Essentially everyone gets to do whatever they want. No one really cares about OPEX [operating expenses] like capitalists.”

“I basically went to work like four hours a week last quarter. And it’s just how it works in our company,” he gloated.

Murugesan said later that he had started to go into the office more frequently because he was pursuing a promotion—and the raise that came with it—a desire he developed as he felt the sting of brutal inflation hitting his pocketbook.

Not so productive

In another instance of demonstrable lack of corporate productivity, one user on Twitter self-identified as a 3D artist with Niantic Labs, the company that produces the Pokemon Go video game, boasted in a May 28 tweet that working from home was great because, “More breaks when needed, more family, walks and workouts outside, healthier eating and much more which has all led to more effective work.”

When pressed as to how taking extra breaks, walks, and workouts would be viewed by their employer if they attempted to conduct themselves in the same way at the office, the artist only replied that they saved “3-4 hours a day from commuting… You can actually do more in a day.”

Commanding

Tuesday’s work from home missive is not the first instance of Musk’s commanding stance towards his managers.

In a photo of an email that emerged on social media sometime last year with the subject line “Please Note,” the chief put his people on notice.

“If an email is sent from me with explicit directions, there are only three actions allowed by managers.

  1. Email me back to explain why what I said was incorrect. Sometimes, I’m just plain wrong!
  2. Request further clarification if what I said was ambiguous
  3. Execute the directions.

If none of the above are done, that manager will be asked to resign immediately,” the clip concluded.

Career implications

Also on June 1, The Guardian reported that former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told a “panel of gender equality experts” that the work from home trend that spawned as a result of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown measures has put women at risk of becoming “invisible behind the screen.”

Although Gillard’s comments appeared to stem from the leftist, socialist notions of modern feminism and woke equaility—she was paraphrased as harkening about women who work from home “disproportionately taking on more domestic labour”— the former PM nonetheless made an astute point.

“There’s a risk that if nothing else changes in five years’ time, what we’ll see is a pattern where women have chosen, particularly in the family formation stage, disproportionately to work from home.”

Gillard added, “And men, who have been much more regular attenders at the office…that very visibility, if nothing else changes, will show in who’s been considered for promotion, sponsorship, mentorship. The women will be kind of invisible behind the screen.”