Elon Musk’s ultimatum to Tesla executives: Return to the main office or get out

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The world’s richest man appears to have had it with this whole working-from-home business.

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., waded into the return-to-office debate on Twitter by elaborating on an email he apparently sent on Tuesday to the electric-car maker’s executive staff.

Under the subject line “Remote work is no longer acceptble [sic],” Musk wrote that “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.”

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The CEO went on to specify that 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.”

While Musk didn’t directly address whether the email is authentic, he strongly suggested it is by responding to a follower asking him to address people who think going into work is an antiquated concept. “They should pretend to work somewhere else,” he replied.

It’s not the first time Musk’s tough-love treatment of employees has come up.

Roughly two weeks before Musk reached a deal to acquire Twitter Inc., Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur, tweeted an anecdote that speaks to his friend’s management style. At Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Musk once noticed a group of interns milling around while they waited in a line for coffee.

Musk viewed this as an affront to productivity. According to Rabois, who knows Musk from their days at PayPal Holdings Inc., Musk threatened to fire all the interns if it happened again, and had security cameras installed to monitor compliance.

Rabois wrote in April that employees at Twitter -- one of the most prominent companies to allow permanent remote work -- are “in for a rude awakening.”

Musk’s apparent email to Tesla’s executive staff suggestsTwitter’s policy will change once he takes over.

The reference to Tesla factory workers is also interesting in light of the situation at the carmaker’s plant in Shanghai.

Thousands of staff there have been effectively locked in for months, working 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Until recently, many were sleeping on the factory floor as part of a closed-loop system meant to keep COVID-19 out and cars rolling off the production line.

Workers brought in to bring the factory back up to speed are being shuttled between the facility and their sleeping quarters -- either disused factories or an old military camp -- with day- and night-shift workers sharing beds in makeshift dorms.

Read more: Tesla’s Musk says he ‘can no longer support’ Democrats, ‘will vote Republican’

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