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Key Words: ‘Pretend to work somewhere else’: Elon Musk reportedly tells Tesla staff working remotely is no longer an option

“They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

That’s Tesla’s

chief executive officer, Elon Musk, responding to an apparent leaked email making the rounds that was addressed to the electric-car maker’s executive staff and entitled: “Remote work is no longer acceptable.”

“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,” read the email dated May 31 and signed “Elon.”

The memo said exceptional circumstances would be considered and reviewed directly by Musk, but it also indicated higher-ups should not expect to report to the most convenient Tesla office.

“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,” said the note.

MarketWatch reached out to Tesla in an effort to verify the email’s authenticity, with no response as of publication time.

While other companies have struggled to bring workers back in the more than two years since the start of the pandemic, Musk appears to see little value in allowing his employees continued flexibility. That’s despite data showing productivity surged during lockdowns, and remote work may not be the production killer he appears to think.

A research team from the Texas A&M University School of Public Health found no negative correlation between remote work and productivity in a study released last month. Another academic study led by Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom showed workers are, in fact, more efficient if they are allowed to work from home at least some of the time.

And while it’s unknown whether Tesla workers are ready to take a stand against their CEO’s apparent demand, in a tight U.S. job markets big companies are struggling to get their workers back, with COVID-19 still causing outbreaks across the U.S.

Read: Get ready for the Great Resistance. Companies and employees are locked in a battle of wills over returning to the office.

Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX in addition to his Tesla role, came under fire in the early months of the pandemic when the EV maker promised workers they could stay home if they felt unsafe due to COVID-19 before reversing course and saying that employees who did not return to work would be fired.

Tesla saw hundreds of cases of COVID-19 between May and December 2020 when, against the recommendation of state and federal health officials, on-site work continued.

Its most recent financial results released in April zoomed past expectations, with revenue pushing toward $19 billion despite factory shutdowns in China and ongoing supply-chain problems. Tesla is still working to get its factories in Shanghai up to full speed after a COVID outbreak and hard lockdown in China’s most populous city.

Shares of the company have lost 28% this year.

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