Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart ci Cate Lawrence is an Australian tech journo living in Berlin. She focuses on all things mobility: ebikes, autonomous vehicles, VTOL, smart cities, and the future of alternative energy sources like electric batteries, solar, and hydrogen.
Yesterday, Tiana Watts-Porter, Technical Recruiter at Microsoft, put a rescue call out on LinkedIn inviting Tesla employees to escape from the chains of the desks and factory floor at Tesla.
In a now-deleted post that mentioned Tesla employees directly, she declared:
“Here at Microsoft and our affiliates LinkedIn and GitHub we are offering ALL THE OPTIONS!!! You can do things your way, and be yourself here at Microsoft! “
And if that includes working in your pajamas at home, that’s just fine and dandy.
The invitation follows a series of leaked emails and follow-up tweets from Elon Musk waving goodbye to remote work. With Musk’s previous insistence that Tesla is a tech company, many are questioning why he’s bucking the trend for remote work.
#Tesla no longer allowing remote work@TeslaPodcast @SawyerMerritt @WholeMarsBlog @garyblack00 @GerberKawasaki pic.twitter.com/DKAgh9ptSX
— Sam Nissim (@SamNissim) June 1, 2022
It applies to everyone. He sent a follow-up. pic.twitter.com/DXJu4u98OR
— Sam Nissim (@SamNissim) June 1, 2022
Other CEOs are mad
Predictably the news attracted derision from CEOs and industry professionals:
1) Who shipped a remarkable product remotely? Well I guess that depends how you define success. I worked at remote first Red Hat for a decade which enjoyed a record breaking year over year ARR growth rate of 60+ quarters. These folks shipped Twitter, the company he is buying. https://t.co/8ecOlWygtR
— Daniel Jeffries (@Dan_Jeffries1) June 2, 2022
Another reason why I would never want to work for you, nor would I recommend to any of my colleagues that they work for you either.
— Grady Booch (@Grady_Booch) June 1, 2022
Yes, that’s THE Grady Booch.
News from @elonmusk & @tesla today feels like something out of the 1950s: “Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week”. Very different approach to what we are taking at Atlassian and here’s why. 🧵 (1/5)
— Scott Farquhar (@scottfarkas) June 2, 2022
Not all roles need you to sit in an office on zoom calls
To state the obvious, Tesla does build physical things. No one is suggesting employees could indulge in some industrial welding from the comfort of their apartment,
But making cars is not just about working the assembly line — roles like design and engineering use software to build vehicle concepts and systems.
Likewise, marketing, business development, accounting, HR, finance, and a myriad of other roles do not require a need an office.
Further, it’s funny to hear commentary on productivity from someone who spends a large chunk of his time talking crap on Twitter.
A minimum 40 hours?!
Let’s not forget that Musk’s email admits to overworking his employees, stating they need to work a “minimum 40h.”
He notes, “This is less than we ask of factory workers.”
Bloody hell, what’s the maximum then?
And if we look at factory floor jobs, I don’t want people performing dangerous jobs involving robots and machinery to be overworked and tired.
Predictably, Tesla is getting lots of pushback, with German unions representing the newly opened Brandenburg Gigafactory offering to support local employees.
Tesla employs around 4,000 people in Germany out of about 99,000 globally.
“Americans are lazy”
Last month Musk spoke at a conference organized by the Financial Times, where he told attendees:
“There’s just a lot of super talented and hardworking people in China that strongly believe in manufacturing. And they won’t just be burning the midnight oil. They’ll be burning the 3 am oil. So they won’t even leave the factory type of thing.
Whereas in America, people are trying to avoid going to work at all.”
Elon also shared on Twitter that all employees use the same toilets.
I don’t care if Elon wants to spend his life at a factory sleeping on the floor as a one-man solution to bring the IT and OT workers together.
He could cushion any cold hard floor with his pile of money. But what about work-life balance for parents, carers, pet owners, and anyone who just wants a life outside of work?
Do we want this to be the norm?!
A rather convenient Tesla email
However, the plot thickens. Yesterday, Musk apparently sent an email to Tesla employees titled “pause all hiring worldwide,” citing a need to cut staff by about 10%.
Look, I’m not sure how many people in non-manufacturing roles will jump to companies with more life balance.
But these are people who can work in any job, and it seems awfully convenient that Musk is talking about people going to work somewhere else, and the need to cut staff.
It all sounds like a handy way to justify culling employee numbers and reduce severance costs by getting people to quit.
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.