Elon Musk Restricts Working From Home, or Else

Updated: 5 days ago

Here's a controversial headline for those of us who love the working from home revolution, although, it's not all as it seems. Earlier this week, headlines sprang up thrashing into Elon's leaked email that described an end to the working from home benefit enjoyed by many. The catch is, it's only for the executive community at Tesla.

First of all, I'm going to tell you that I support this condition, in this rare case. FYI - Both of the emails are shown below. I believe this is quite different from a company banning working from home across the board, without using any data. WFH overall, is a fantastic concept.

Within the leaked emails, we can see a few sentences from Elon that managed to hit people in very different ways, hence the controversy.

In an era where working from home has allowed the sustainable balance of work and play, this might seem like a giant kick in the teeth for many who have enjoyed the fruits of the adjustment so far.

Elon's First Work From Home Email

So here's the email - for authenticity, Reuters claim to have two sources who were able to confirm the email was genuine. Tesla however, has reported to not have comment on the email or anything surrounding it's contents.

UPDATE: this is the first of two emails, second one is displayed further below.

Leaked elon musk email from tesla restricting working from home

Right, we have a few things to talk about. Firstly, you can feel how personally invested Elon is in authoring this email. You immediately get the sense that he wants to be perfectly clear and doesn't expect to write this kind of email again.

He commits to being very explicit regarding time, location and authority. Ultimately, it's a concise way of setting up the 'here-on-in'.

The other thing to note, is who this is addressed to. 'ExecStaff' is...you guessed it, the executive community at Tesla - i.e. the leadership and management personnel, not the factory workers, contractors etc.

40 hours per week minimum

However, the executive staff are spread far and wide across many divisions within Tesla, so every division is under review , be that car or solar roof production.

Though the subject of the email would certainly catch the attention of the affected workforce, the content of the email is actually a step back from the bold subject line.

Elon opens the email with a condition, he doesn't actually do away with working from home, but he does introduce a restriction to the startled readers.

"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. This is less than we ask of factory workers."

The condition is, executive staff who wish to work from home must have already completed 40 hours in that week (it's unclear whether that's Monday to Friday or Monday to Sunday)

40 hours by the way, is actually on the high end of anyone's typical working week. In the UK, we're pretty familiar with a 37 hour week in this type of industry (base hours, not including overtime).

Elon then reiterates the word *minimum* (using asterisk's around a word in this context is Elon giving that word emphasis)

Factory workers more than 40 hours

He then continues to state that if anyone is not happy with this, then they should 'depart tesla'. For some, this would have be quite a shocking thing to read, others, perhaps not.

Elon is sure known for his blunt expectations, surely the executive community know this the better than anyone.

Then finally, he rounds the opening statement off with a comparative.

"This is less than we ask of factory workers."

Elon makes it clear that he (and the execs) ask the factory workers to do more than 40 hours per week (again, unsure if this is a consistent expectation or one off's - I'd probably say consistent)

I actually quite admire this part. He states that at an executive level, people are expected to put in more work, but also they must be present and be alongside their team, standing side to side, rather than residing behind and pointing forward.

Of course, exec's will be compensated more for this, in Tesla, climbing the ladder doesn't get you a comfier seat, but a increased workload which is proportional to the compensation package (let's hope!)

Your Main Office is Your Only Office

After clarifying the hours one needs to put in, Elon is explicit about the location in which these 40 hours will 'count'.

This again, comes back to leadership. In the second email (shown below) Elon touched on the idea of being visible as a leader - this is fundamentally crucial and incredibly important.

Elon rounds the email off with the following:

"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"

Elon touches on an example (to convey even more clarity) He speaks about how the human relations executives, who have 'less practical' jobs are still required to be present at their primary work locations.

He is quite clear that there are no concessions to be made, other than ones that he personally approves.

This concludes the content of the first email, pretty alarming stuff for an executive who thought that the higher up the ladder you go the more you can delegate your own responsibilities!

My Summary of the First Email

Clearly, Elon wants to shake things up, it seems to be an email that comes in response to a review period of the working from home practise - and it's not working for the Tesla executive community.

Although working from home for some jobs/roles can be fantastic, we need to understand that Tesla is quite unique in it's ambition, pace and rate of change.

Tesla stands as the apex of modern day companies and it blows older and slow corporations out of the water with it's dynamic approach. To maintain this, data needs to be listened to and acted upon, swiftly.

This is what I think has happened, data has come back and shows that the workforce don't see their leadership as often and it's taking a moral hit (I've been there, I empathise with this)

Perhaps getting in touch with leadership is slower now they can work from home. Tesla will not tolerate slower, they want the best, and will adapt to any condition that provides it.

Any employee, executive or not, should know that when they apply to Tesla...their conviction is perhaps the most important thing - contributed in time, innovation, commitment and integrity.

Elon's Second Work From Home Email

Email number 2, in typical Elon fashion titled "To be super clear". I have no data on the authenticity of this second email yet, though I do believe it to be genuine.

Elon musk second leaked email restricting working from home, talking about 40 hours

Elon opens the email with a summary of the first, followed by some even wider eye opening ultimatums for those who aren't willing to adapt.

"If you don't show up, we will assume you have resigned". I mean, this kind of speaks for itself, I'm unsure on how many strikes you get for this to be assumed, but either way...

Do you think this is fair? comment below after reading, I'm sure many companies would handle this very differently.

Leaders Must be Visible

"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"

Again, we hear echo's of Elon's leadership. This is perhaps the most powerful few sentences of the whole email leak duo.

Elon is communicating that the commitment of the leadership so far has perhaps not been up to scratch and/or needs to be heightened as we edge closer to a possible recession.

Now, there is another side to this, and I hope Elon considers it.

Everyone is not like Elon, he describes the time where he slept in the factory over night to support his staff. Although this is totally commendable, all executives are not like Elon, he is for sure a unique person in his own right and his commitment, work output, intelligence is pretty much unrivalled.

To ask people to do produce the same output as himself, might be an unrealistic and perhaps unfair thing to ask. Everyone should be encouraged to give their all and hopefully that amount is above a threshold that Elon is happy with (but the threshold cannot be expected to be the same as Elon)

This being said, I understand where he is coming from, he dreams that the hearts and minds of his employees are poised toward the sustainable future we all need, and he wants Tesla to be the spearhead of that movement, because it's probably one of our only shots.

The Great New Product

"There are of course companies that don't require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? it's been a while."

Elon touches on the assumption (and truth) that many companies don't require this level of input, they are stuck in their ways and they aren't designed to innovate quickly, instead they just survive and continue.

Tesla isn't such a company, it's one that is re-writing what it means to have a collection of humans working together to produce something in record time, at record quality, with record impact.

He then touches on that idea that Tesla is producing a great new product, we can assume he's referring to the collection of products that the company produces (although he may be referring to the factory or the "machine that builds the machine" which is the enabler for all other future products)

Tesla model 3 photoshoot background white stormtrooper style

Changing the World

"Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful product of any company on earth, this will not happy by phoning it in."

He rounds the second email off with a pretty inspiring outro. He speaks about creating and actually manufacturing the most exciting and meaningful products. I believe he's referring to the idea that designing a great product is easy (relative to mass producing them, which is super hard - as he always says)

The meaningful part points toward the impact of Tesla products both in their functionality, but also their ability to make the world aware of a sustainable future and to be excited for it (and therefore, push for it)

My Summary of Both Emails

Well, it's an interesting one for sure. By many, Elon will be seen as a tyrant, but by others, Elon will be seen as a defender of his skilled workforce (the car builders, solar installers and battery producers)

I'd be interested to know whether this also applies to the Giga Shanghai and Giga Berlin factories, or whether this is just a US condition.

My reasoning for this is that Elon did comment on his observation that the Chinese Tesla workforce do work harder and seem more committed, perhaps, he's trying to inspire the rest of the workforce to match their standard?

Although I stand by the idea that it's unachievable for Elon to expect the workforce to match his output, I think it's fair that he expects a certain standard of output relative to each role (a level for factory workers, one for executives, one for whomever else etc)

This is true amongst many companies, though in most companies, the leadership roles guide managers away from their workforce and they become invisible - I hate this concept, it's so damaging to moral and overall output.

A leader should always be visible, Elon gets that and he's right, but will the Tesla executives?

Overall, I'm in support of this change, working at Tesla wont be for everyone, but for those who want to change the world and put their effort toward something signifiant...it might be the ultimate experience.

Tesla so far, have changed the rule books for what's possible for a company in a short space of time. To think that the business can access an even higher level of output is nuts, but it's probably doable.

If you're interested in Tesla, check out their Impact Report for 2021. It's a pretty interesting read. If you're an exec or any other type of worker, post your comments below on what you think!

Thanks for reading


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