The world’s richest man reportedly told staff he had to leave the company if he broke a new rule.
Elon Musk has threatened his top executives, telling them they can “leave Tesla” if they don’t return to the office full-time.
The dictate of the world’s richest man came in a leaked email which he later appeared to confirm was genuine. He responded to a tweet questioning the plan by saying employees who don’t want to come back to the office for at least 40 hours a week should “pretend to work somewhere else”.
These last months, Musk spoke out against what he sees as a poor work ethic in the United States, despite the fact that the average American works longer hours than most first-world countries.
Tesla chief praised Chinese workers for “burning the 3 a.m. oil”.
Musk’s email to Tesla executives
On Tuesday, a Twitter account in the name of Sam Nissim tweeted a screenshot of what appeared to be an email from Musk to his executives.
“Anyone who wants to work remotely must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or leave Tesla,” the email reads.
“It’s less than what we ask of factory workers.”
Given that a five-day eight-hour-a-day workweek equals 40 hours, that would leave little time to actually work from home.
“If there are any particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly,” the email continued.
“Additionally, the office must be a main Tesla office, not a remote branch unrelated to the duties of the position.”
The email used the example of a human resources manager for the Tesla factory in Fremont, near San Francisco. It would be unacceptable for them, for example, to do their jobs away from Fremont, Musk said.
It was unclear whether the email only required the executives to return to the office or themselves and all of their staff as well.
The original post was retweeted by an account called Whole Mars Catalog, which asked, “Hey Elon, any additional comments for people who think entering work is an outdated concept?”
“They should pretend to work somewhere else,” Musk replied early Wednesday morning, though he didn’t directly confirm the email was genuine.
The United States has some of the most flexible labor laws in the developed world. Most employees can be terminated for no reason, the only recourse for the employee would be if they could prove that their termination was based on discrimination – for example if they were terminated because of their race, gender, disability or sexuality.
As such, Tesla would be broadly allowed to get rid of staff who didn’t return to work for 40 hours a week.
Musk’s coup against American workers
Last month, Musk took a look at the work ethic of Americans during a discussion at a conference on the future of cars, organized by the British newspaper The FinancialTimes.
“There are just a lot of super talented and hardworking people in China who strongly believe in manufacturing,” he told the FT.
“And they won’t just burn the midnight oil. They will burn the oil from 3am. So they won’t even leave the factory.
“Whereas in America people try to avoid going to work at all.”
In April, it appeared Tesla workers at its Shanghai factory are said to be sleeping at the factory for several weeks due to the city’s severe lockdown.
Workers at the Chinese factory are said to have received a bed and a mattress to lie on.
This was part of a “closed loop” system designed to isolate staff from the outside world so production could ramp up.
It has been claimed that Musk has in the past been seen asleep at Tesla facilities. He dozed under the desks and even on the floor of the factory itself.
In 2018, he told the Recode Decode podcast that when the Tesla Model 3 car was produced, he worked seven days a week and “slept a few hours, worked a few hours.”
He said he sometimes worked 120 hours. At 168 hours a week, that would leave less than seven hours a day behind.
But he did not recommend that 120-hour weeks be standardized, he said.
“You’re going to go a little crazy if you work 120 hours a week”.
Only 40 hours in the office will be enough.
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