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Elon Musk issues stark ultimatum to Tesla workers

Tesla chief Elon Musk has told his workers to return to the office or leave the company, according to a memo sent to staff this week.

Some Tesla office employees have been working at home during the pandemic, but Musk now wants them to get out of the house and restart the commute.

Although the leaked memo has Musk’s name on it, he is yet to confirm that he did indeed send the message. However, Musk later responded to a tweeted inquiry about it, saying that Tesla’s remote workers “should pretend to work somewhere else.”

They should pretend to work somewhere else

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2022

The memo was sent to executives. but appears to be a set of instructions for all Tesla office staff to follow.

“Remote work is no longer acceptble [sic],” the memo begins.

“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.”

Musk writes that “this is less than we ask of factory workers,” adding that if there are any “exceptional contributors” for whom working in the office is “impossible,” then he will personally consider their case.

He goes on: “Moreover, the ‘office’ must be 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.”

A later email seen by Electrek, also signed by “Elon,” has the subject line: “To be super clear.”

It says that “everyone” has to work at least 40 hours a week in the office and that if someone fails to show up at their usual place of work, “we will assume you have resigned.”

Musk adds: “The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence. 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.”

The Tesla boss notes that there are indeed companies that are still letting their staff work remotely, adding, “But when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while.”

The memo finishes by saying that Tesla will “create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in.”

The pandemic ushered in a new era of hybrid working for desk-based employees, though clearly not everyone is happy about it.

Musk’s office-only approach is likely to concern folks at Twitter, the company that the billionaire entrepreneur is planning to acquire.

Responding to the new way of doing things, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said in March that the company is committed to “truly flexible work,” telling his employees: “Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work and that includes working from home full-time forever.”

If Musk’s takeover bid goes through, that could all change.

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Trevor Mogg
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