Elon Musk tells Tesla and SpaceX employees to return to the office 40 hours a week

Elon Musk demands that his employees return to the office.

Mr Musk, the world’s richest man, sent a pair of similar memos on Tuesday to push his employees at SpaceX, the rocket company he runs, and Tesla, the electric car maker he runs, spending time in the office.

In his email to SpaceX employees, Mr. Musk told workers they were required to “spend at least 40 hours in the office per week.” Those who didn’t would be fired, he wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The New York Times.

“The more senior you are, the more your presence should be visible,” Musk said. “That’s why I spent so much time at the factory, so people online could see me working alongside them. If I hadn’t done that, SpaceX would have gone bankrupt a long time ago.

In his memo to Tesla executive staff, which was posted on Twitter by the Whole Mars Catalog blog and which the billionaire seemed to confirm, Mr. Musk also wrote that “anyone who wants to do remote work” must be in the office at least 40 hours a week. Those who haven’t should “leave Tesla,” he added.

With his twin notes, Mr. Musk jumped straight into a heated debate over the right way for companies to get workers back into the office during the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past few years, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and many other companies have announced and then delayed back-to-office dates as coronavirus outbreaks have complicated plans. Remote work has become normalized.

The problem has become more difficult as coronavirus vaccinations have increased and a reduction in the pandemic seemed close. Some companies have started saying they expect workers to return to the office. Yet plans continued to fluctuate. Apple last month suspended its requirement that employees return to the office in May at least three days a week due to a resurgence in Covid cases. Airbnb recently told its employees that they never have to return to the office.

Mr. Musk, Tesla and SpaceX did not immediately return calls for comment.

Many Tesla and SpaceX employees had already returned to the office in some capacity. In 2020, as “non-essential” workplaces in California closed at the start of the pandemic, SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., used its exemption as a government contractor to stay open. In a March 2020 email, which had been reported earlier by BuzzFeed News, Mr. Musk told SpaceX employees that they had a higher risk of being killed in a car accident than of dying from an accident. a coronavirus.

In May 2020, Mr. Musk also attacked local officials in the San Francisco Bay Area for not letting him reopen Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. Tesla sued Alameda County, where the plant was located, and reopened it anyway, in defiance of health officials. ‘ instructions.

Tesla, which had more than 99,000 employees at the end of last year, moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas from Palo Alto, California, although it still has a significant manufacturing and operational presence in California. . SpaceX employs about 12,000 people, Musk said in a recent interview.

Mr Musk is also closing a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, the social media company. He didn’t say what he expects from Twitter employees in terms of time spent in the office. In 2020, Jack Dorsey, then Twitter’s chief executive, informed employees that many of them would be allowed to work from home permanently.

In his email to SpaceX employees on Tuesday, Musk suggested that companies that didn’t require workers to return to the office wouldn’t be able to ship “a great new product.”

“SpaceX has and truly will and will manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company in space,” he said. “That won’t happen by phoning him.”

Cade Metz contributed report.

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