Amrita Khalid, Yahoo News

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tells staff to return to the office or leave

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Elon Musk delivered an ultimatum to Tesla and Space X’s corporate workforces: Spend a minimum of 40 hours a week in the office or leave the company. Musk today confirmed in a tweet that screenshots of an email sent to workers was real. According to The New York Times, workers at both companies received similar memos from Musk that made clear that all workers must report to a main office for 40 hours a week. Musk also wrote that employees would no longer be allowed to work from “remote branch” offices not related to their job duties, giving the example of an HR worker for the Fremont factory who works out-of-state.

“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk said in a memo to SpaceX employees obtained by NYT. “That is why I spent so much time in the factory — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, SpaceX would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

Musk taking a hardline stance on remote work is in stark contrast to a number of other major tech companies that have allowed all or most workers to request to work-from-home permanently, including Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce and Slack. Apple recently suspended a requirement that workers return to the office at least three days a week.

As Bloomberg reported today, Twitter employees — who are likely to be reporting to Musk once his acquisition of the company is complete — have internally expressed some concern the SpaceX and Tesla remote work policies (or lack thereof) herald unwelcome changes for their own workplace.

Tesla’s career website still lists a number of salaried and hourly remote positions. It’s unclear whether the new policy will apply to those positions. Engadget has reached out to Tesla for comment, though we are unlikely to hear back: the company dissolved its corporate communications department in 2020.

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Elon Musk’s in-office ultimatum for his workers could disrupt Twitter’s plans for its employees to work from home ‘forever’

Twitter was one of the first major tech companies to declare a work-from-home “forever” policy in 2020, but Elon Musk’s stance on remote work could cause yet another shake up at the company.

On Tuesday, the billionaire — who is in the process of buying Twitter — reportedly issued an ultimatum to his employees at Tesla and SpaceX via email: return to the office or resign. The leaked emails were verified by The Washington Post and The New York Times. 

PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 26: In this photo illustration, the Elon Musk’s Twitter account is displayed on the screen of an iPhone in front of the homepage of the Twitter website on April 26, 2022 in Paris, France. The U.S. multi-billionaire Elon Musk bought the social network Twitter on Monday April 25 for the sum of 44 billion dollars after two weeks of arm wrestling with the company’s board of directors. (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

The billionaire took a dig at companies that have been more lenient with remote work.

“There are of course companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product?” Musk reportedly said in a companywide email. “It’s been a while.”

Musk did not respond to a request for comment on whether the policy would eventually apply to Twitter. A Twitter spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider but told Fast Company that it has no plans to change its policy.

“Our priority is for employees to work wherever they feel most productive and creative,” the spokesperson said.

Twitter might not have a choice if Musk completes his purchase of the social-media company.

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Musk’s stance on remote work runs counter to that of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who is friends with the Tesla CEO. The former Twitter CEO has been known for his bohemian lifestyle. Dorsey has said he found inspiration for work in Africa and Myanmar, as well as the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.

When Twitter initially announced that it would allow employees to work-from-home indefinitely, Dorsey sent a companywide email with the subject line “#lovewhereyouwork.”

“We’re serious about a distributed workforce, and we’ve proved we can make it work,” he wrote. 

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, Dorsey had voiced plans to encourage a “distributed workforce.” 

“I don’t fear any slowness as we work to distribute our workforce now, and I do think we have to build a company that’s not entirely dependent on San Francisco,” Dorsey said during earnings call in February. “As we look forward, we’re reaching a talent pool that expects a lot more remote work … We should be building our company around that. I haven’t made any plans just yet for this year, but I do expect that I will travel.”

Twitter is one of several tech companies who are seeking to diversify their talent through remote-work policies. In May, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the office was “from a pre-digital age” after the company announced that employees could work from home forever. Other companies like Apple and Microsoft have been forced to modify return to work policies amid pushback from employees.

Remote working opportunities have become a key benefit amid the great resignation. Last year, a Harris Poll found that 62% of Americans said they would take lower pay in exchange for the ability to work-from-home forever. Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton reported that three economists said remote work had little impact on workers’ ability to get stuff done and may even increase productivity. 

Musk’s opinion on remote work could become yet another hurdle in his relationship with Twitter employees. In a regulatory filing last month, Twitter warned that the purchase could affect the company’s ability to attract and retain employees.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that news of Musk’s $44 billion purchase had sparked negative feedback from many workers — with some questioning how Musk might change the company’s culture. Last month, Musk said “work ethic expectations would be extreme” for Twitter employees.

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