Work at least 40 hours in the office or leave, says Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s ‘get in the office’ way or the highway will harm diversity efforts at Tesla

Tesla creates great products. But other companies support you in having a great life. Which do you choose?
Elon Musk Tesla

Elon Musk wants employees to be physically present, and appears to have some serious trust issues when it comes to believing staff can actually be productive while working from home.

He also doesn’t seem to want to know much about part time or flexible work – and the options such work can give to employers that want to tap into the full pool of the best possible talent out there.

Earlier this week, Musk issued a memo to staff declaring that those who can’t get to the office for a minimum of 40 hours a week, should go and find another job.

“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. If you don’t show up, we’ll assume you have resigned,” he said.

He’s also not into the trend of corporates encouraging leaders to ‘leave loudly’ and actively demonstrate how they’re accessing and using flexible work policies.

“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk continued in the memo.

“That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

Musk went further, declaring that while there are still some good companies that don’t require staff to be in the office, it’s “been a while” since any of them shipped a great product.

The comments come after Musk compared Americans who are “trying to avoid work” to Chinese workers who “will be burning the 3am oil.”

He’s also previously said that “all the COVID stay-at-home stuff has tricked people into thinking that you don’t actually need to work hard. Rude awakening inbound.”

But plenty of people – including large, innovative and successful founders of other companies – noted just how ridiculous Musk’s sentiments were.

From the Australian tech giant Atlassian, co founder Scott Farquhar tweeted that Musk’s comment “feels like something out of the 1950s”. He went on to share more on Atlassian’s “work anywhere” policies, after the company announced that workers would never have to return to the office, just a few months into the pandemic.

He cheekily encouraged Tesla staff to apply for roles at Atlassian, taking the opportunity to outline what they have on offer, with a “highly distributed, highly flexible” workforce.

Farquhar tweeted that 42 per cent of their new hires over the past year live more than two hours from an office. Expecting them to travel to an office location every day of the week would seriously limit the retention rate.

Such expectations would also add additional challenges to Atlassian’s goal of recruiting a massive 25,000 employees by 2026.

“This is the future of how we will work,” Farquhar tweeted. “Yes, right now it’s not perfect, but we have to experiment to get it right. Any Tesla employees interested?”

Musk couldn’t resist responding to a fellow billionaire on Twitter, taking the opportunity to reply to Farquhar with the comment that: “the above set of tweets illustrate why recessions serve a vital economic cleansing function.”

Atlassian is currently the 17th biggest software company in the world. Atlassian has made significant progress on hiring more women into technical roles and for diversity generally, including taking intentional steps to address bias in product design.

Musk’s comments can only harm opportunities to attract more diversity.

Not only his memo encourage existing staff to leave, but the authoritarian style is also a turnoff for potential talent. The rule itself will also cancel out those who live too far from the Tesla headquarters, as well as those who simply want the option of a little more flexibility in their lives, to take on caring responsibilities and families lives — or even just to have a life.

Musk is betting on the idea that the products Tesla produces are so exciting that staff will want to give up the work from home options they could get at other companies.

Perhaps, it’s enough for some people. But it’s certainly not enough for the full pool of potential talent out there.

Tesla creates great products. But other companies support you in having a great life. Which do you choose?

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