Eccentric billionaire Elon Musk has given his Tesla employees an ultimatum: return to the office or find a new job.
On Tuesday, Musk sent an email with the subject line “Remote work is no longer acceptble” (sic), demanding that Tesla staffers return to work or else. Screenshots of the email then went viral and outraged the usual suspects, though the uproar hasn’t persuaded Musk to back down.
Those who don’t cooperate should “pretend to work somewhere else,” Tesla reiterated on Wednesday.
Take a look:
They should pretend to work somewhere else
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2022
As you can see, Musk isn’t just talking about any old office. Employees must report to “a main Tesla” office, not some random cubicle rented from Regus.
Meanwhile, critics have slammed the decision.
Meta executive Dare Obasanjo claimed, “A forced return to office policy during a renewed COVID surge sounds like a great way to create some attrition without the negative optics of a layoff.”
Twitter employees also took to Blind, a corporate forum, to complain.
“Most companies at least set a return day a couple months out to let employees prepare,” one Twitter employee griped, per the New York Post. “Who just suddenly makes massive changes to an orgs work life with no warning.”
And it makes sense that those employed at Twitter would keep a careful eye on what Musk demands of his Tesla employees. Musk, of course, is in the process of purchasing Twitter, though he’s encountered many hiccups along the way, so whatever rules Musk imposes on Tesla staffers he will likely impose on the Twitter workforce whenever he officially takes over.
Musk is now just one of many in the business world who have begun to rein in remote work, a phenomenon that seemed here to stay just a few short months ago. AI expert Ankur Modi argued against it all the way in 2019, writing in Forbes that it leads to “isolation” and stunts career advancement. Even CNN business began to question the practice last August.
Though remote work has its benefits, among other things, it does create a sharper divide between the so-called “laptop class” and their working class counterparts, as Musk mentions.
Forty hours in an office “is less than we demand of factory workers,” he says in the email.
So among other things, Musk is looking out for the forgotten men and women on his payroll, and those in desk jobs better accept it or start updating their resumes.